Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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1/23/2010
10:59 AM
Bob Evans
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Polycom Pairs With Juniper To Battle Cisco

Looking to meet the growing demand for network-based video services, Polycom has joined up with Juniper to combine Polycom's online video capabilities with Juniper's high-performance network expertise. Plus, both realize the need for strategic partnerships if they hope to be able to compete vigorously with Cisco.

Looking to meet the growing demand for network-based video services, Polycom has joined up with Juniper to combine Polycom's online video capabilities with Juniper's high-performance network expertise. Plus, both realize the need for strategic partnerships if they hope to be able to compete vigorously with Cisco.Polycom CEO Bob Hagerty, who's done an outstanding job keeping his company at the forefront of a rapidly changing market, said in a Reuters.com article that the partnership with Juniper will also allow CIOs to have a wider set of choices as Cisco extends its presence (a new product: megapresence?) across a huge swath of the IT spectrum.

"Nobody really wants to be locked in to one way of working on a proprietary network with one vendor," Hagerty told Reuters. "What this allows is best in class, and investment protection on what you already have."

The article also offered this perspective on the competitive dynamics between Polycom and Tandberg, a company that Cisco is acquiring: "Analysts say Polycom, Tandberg's main rival, risks losing market share unless it broadens its sales reach through partnerships or is acquired."

This speaks to an age-old decision for CIOs: they want their strategic vendors to have the capability of being a one-stop shop, but at the same time those CIOs are reluctant to actually commit to locking in any single vendor as that one-stop shop because of the concerns over lock-in voiced above by Hagerty.

That dynamic is complicated these days by a sweeping trend among CIOs to dramatically reduce the number of IT vendors on their approved-supplier lists. In many cases, the size of those lists is being slashed by anywhere from 30% to 60% as CIOs look to simplify their asset-management and integration challenges.

So for Polycom and Juniper, that means their combined set of Internet-based video services will have to be significantly better, faster, easier, and cheaper than what Cisco is offering-otherwise, customers will go with the one-throat-to-choke option, which also affords them a sense of security in knowing that Cisco is one of the world's biggest and best-known IT companies.

So for the Polycom-Juniper deal to work, Hagerty and his new best friends at Juniper will have to offer a truly compelling package of capabilities and pricing while also articulating clearly and powerfully why their combined approach is not just superior to Cisco's but also more valuable for CIOs.

It's a big challenge but Bob Hagerty is the sort of CEO who just might be able to pull it off.

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