Microsoft, HP Enhance Unified Communications Partnership

Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft announce at the Interop Las Vegas conference a four-year strategic global initiative to deliver an end-to-end unified communications and collaboration solution.

Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft at the Interop Las Vegas conference May 19 announced "a four-year strategic global initiative to deliver an end-to-end unified communications and collaboration solution."

The May 19 announcement is an expansion of the companies' Frontline Partnership, and is a deal in which "the two companies expect to invest up to an additional $180 million in product development [and] professional services, as well as joint sales and marketing, to help organizations lower cost and improve productivity," particularly in tough economic times, Microsoft and HP said in a news release.

"Customers can lower costs and rapidly enhance employee productivity with unified communications and collaboration from HP and Microsoft," Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's Technology Solutions Group, said in a statement. "We provide customers with solutions that are rich, intuitive and accessible from anywhere on nearly any device." According the release:

"The end-to-end solution, which is planned to span software, hardware, networking and services, would enable customers to improve business output and reduce travel, [telecommunications] and IT operating costs. This would be accomplished by streamlining communications across messaging, video and voice with connected applications and devices. HP and Microsoft also plan to provide the flexibility and control customers need to manage their communications infrastructure efficiently."

"Together, we are offering the extensive breadth of capabilities of our respective technologies to deliver a truly unified communications and collaboration solution to help our customers improve business productivity," Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, said in a statement. "This means one click to communicate, one click to conference, one click to collaborate."

"Microsoft's approach to unified communications and collaboration solutions, combined with HP's global technology and services, will help us drive innovation and growth in our business," Tina Atkinson, program sponsor for New Ways of Working with Cathay Pacific Airways, said in the release. "Cathay Pacific Airways followed a detailed tender process and chose Microsoft and HP because they best met our requirements for a flexible and comprehensive approach to unified communications and collaboration, tailored to our needs."

Moreover, the companies said, "Demand for unified communications and collaboration technologies is growing rapidly. According to an independent report from Forrester Research, 84 percent of enterprises in North America and Europe are currently evaluating, piloting or implementing unified communications and collaboration solutions, and the market is expected to grow at a rate of 35.9 percent through 2015."

In a March report, research company IDC forecast that a steady unified communications adoption rate will continue in 2009, as organizations look to reduce OPEX (operational expenditure) costs while at the same time improving productivity and efficiency.

"Unified communications has become a fast-growing solution adopted by businesses of all sizes for various reasons including improved productivity and lower OPEX. Although UC is considered to be a horizontal product that is applicable to all businesses, there have been adoption time lags by some verticals in the Australian market, which we believe will catch up in 2009," said Jason Leung, a telecommunications market analyst for IDC Australia.

"As overall total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) culminate [in] favorable prospects for many businesses, the undeniable conclusion in most instances is a case of not if but when UC should be adopted," Leung added.

Meanwhile, in terms of product development and integration, HP and Microsoft said they will "form joint teams to collaborate on products and services development across Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office Communications Server, as well as HP ProCurve networking products. HP will obtain Microsoft Unified Communications qualification for the HP dx9000 TouchSmart Business PC and select smartphones. ... [and] HP Business Technology Optimization (BTO) software will provide additional support for Microsoft Office Communications Server," among other moves.

Regarding professional services, Microsoft and HP will "offer a full set of business productivity services ranging from assessment, architecture planning and design to implementation, monitoring, management and support for software, hardware, network, server, storage and infrastructure components in the shared portfolio. HP will dedicate a global team of service professionals to support the joint solutions, helping customers achieve improved levels of network availability and response times. HP and Microsoft will also target communications service providers ... provide services for customers ... and work together to address customers' real-time collaboration needs," the companies said.

Also, Microsoft and HP will "assign dedicated salespeople to their joint solutions and train several thousand technical and delivery personnel," among other moves in the sales and marketing arena

More information about the HP and Microsoft initiative is available here. More information about Microsoft unified communications and collaboration technologies is available here.