NEW YORK—Microsoft and Cisco talked publicly for the first time about several of the seven focus areas on which they are currently collaborating, which include IT architecture, management, Unified Communications and security.
At an event held at the Mandarin Oriental hotel here in New York on August 20 to discuss the interoperability work between them, Ciscos chief development officer Charlie Giancarlo and Bob Muglia, Microsofts senior vice president for server and tools, highlighted some of the collaborative work they are doing and which they have not talked much about before.
The first area they called out was their joint work around the IT Architecture for Microsofts infrastructure optimization model and Ciscos Service-Oriented Network Architecture.
“This work is designed to align our work and get a consistent message and architectural approach for enterprise customers,” Muglia said.
One of the scenarios under development here is network optimization and Quality of Service considerations as customers begin Windows Vista deployments, particularly the opportunities created by the redesigned Internet Protocol stack in Vista, he said.
The two firms are also considering establishing a Cisco-Microsoft Architecture Center of Excellence, but gave no additional details.
With regard to the work they are doing on the mobile phone front, the two pointed to the initiative underway to extend the capabilities of the Cisco Unified Communications Manager to enterprises with devices powered by Windows Mobile and Cisco Unified Mobile Communicator.
“This will give customers integrated presence, telephony, calendaring and other unified communications capabilities from both of us, Ciscos Giancarlo said.
Ciscos Unified WLAN system is being designed to provide detailed information to a connected devices location, and the two companies will work together to integrate this capability and make it available via Microsofts location API, he said.
But the area of Unified Communications is a tricky one for the two as they both compete aggressively in this space and take differing views on how to deliver and manage synchronous-asynchronous communications.
Microsoft, Cisco Collaborating on
Microsofts approach is that software is the hub of all communications, while Cisco feels that the network is the hub of all communications.
But Muglia and Giancarlo pledged to work together in those areas that were complementary to meet the needs of joint customers and partners, while continuing to compete in this space.
The connected home environment is another area where Cisco and Microsoft are working closely together, and where they are currently exploring ways to enhance the next generation of IPTV systems.
Cisco-Linksys is also working with Microsoft on the next generation of Media Center Extenders so as to support select versions of Windows Vista and the growing demand for moving rich Internet and consumer-generated content from the PC to the living room, Giancarlo said.
“We are also collaborating on developing an entertainment capable infrastructure in the home, with dual-band wireless-N and quality of service, and we are working on an open platform and ecosystem that allows other devices to be integrated into the living room experience, such as the Linksys IP Camera,” he said.
In the SMB space, the two have established pilot programs for one-stop shopping that lets these companies minimize sales complexity by collaboratively selling through third-party distribution channels.
An example cited of this is D&H Distributing, a Microsoft and Cisco distribution partner, which launched a solution-based selling program for resellers to provide guidance to them on selling Microsoft and Cisco solutions for infrastructure, security and mobility.
Cisco and Microsoft have also worked on Cisco Unified Communications integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM to provide all staff, rather than just call-center agents, with an enhanced customer relationship management solution.
The two companies will also continue to evaluate and identify opportunities for joint sales and distribution of products in this space.
They are also collaborating on the management and security fronts, while the interoperability work between the two companies remains an ongoing project, whose scope is a moving target to which things are continually being added, Muglia said.