Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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3/23/2010
01:50 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Hewlett-Packard & Polycom: Enemy's Enemy Is My Friend

With businesses investing heavily in video and telepresence, Polycom's eager to compete with market leader Cisco and has the goods to do so but lacks 800-pound -gorilla mass. But Hewlett-Packard offers Polycom the means (ubiquitous market presence), the motive (Cisco's HP's most-abrasive competitor), and the muscle mass ($120 billion in revenue). Can an HP-Polycom partnership cut into Cisco's lead?

With businesses investing heavily in video and telepresence, Polycom's eager to compete with market leader Cisco and has the goods to do so but lacks 800-pound -gorilla mass. But Hewlett-Packard offers Polycom the means (ubiquitous market presence), the motive (Cisco's HP's most-abrasive competitor), and the muscle mass ($120 billion in revenue). Can an HP-Polycom partnership cut into Cisco's lead?From an informationweek.com article yesterday:

Charles Stucki, VP and general manager for the Cisco telepresence solutions business unit, noted Monday that Cisco's telepresence offering has become one of the firm's fastest growing products in its history. "In fact," he said, "It's the first product from the emerging technologies group (a veritable incubator within Cisco) to grow from conception to a billion dollar business in what was an already established market."

As InformationWeek's W. David Gardner points out in that analysis, it's a vast understatement to say that the relationship between HP and Cisco has morphed rapidly from one of relatively bland but mutually beneficial cooperation to one of almost-personal intensity as each has directly and aggressively gone after the heart of the other's market.

Meanwhile, Polycom-following Cisco's announcement of its intention to acquire Tandberg-has been actively looking to extend its strategic partnerships as CEO Bob Hagerty has aligned his company with not only HP in this latest deal but also with Microsoft for united communications.

Gardner's news story yesterday quoted Hagerty as saying, "Adoption of visual communications is growing rapidly and teaming with HP will increase the global market presence for Polycom's standards-based solutions."

So HP-Polycom's initial effort will be aimed at the booming markets for video and telepresence, two solutions that are gaining favor among CIOs for enhancing communication and collaboration, reducing travel expenses, and opening up lots of new ground for new applications and solutions. With Cisco as a common enemy, both companies clearly have a vested interest to work together aggressively and harmoniously.

But Microsoft can also become a critical factor here as it has recently crafted an extensive partnership with not only Hewlett-Packard to compete against their common foes (IBM, Oracle, and now Cisco), but also with Polycom in the UC sector. And wouldn't you know it: Cisco's a big-time UC player as well.

So expect what is now a nascent partnership between HP and Polycom to blossom rapidly into a more expansive arrangement as the competition extends beyond visual communications and telepresence and into UC as well, with Microsoft playing an essential role in that 3-part arrangement.

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