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Cisco and HP Partner for UC

Cisco's relations with the world's largest technology vendor, Hewlett-Packard Co., have been somewhat nebulous, notwithstanding the "strategic relationship" that both companies notched back in 2002. There's a reason for that. In spite of a few noteworthy cases of collaboration, Cisco and HP also compete in the enterprise networking segment, where the latter company's ProCurve division has tried to chip away at Cisco's dominance.

Given HP's size and technology heft, however, there's bound to be ample opportunity for partnering. Both companies demonstrated as much recently, when Cisco unveiled a partnership with HP to push its unified communications (UC) products to global customers.

The term "partnership" in this context is more than a buzz word, too: Cisco and HP pledged to develop joint training programs for their respective employees, as well as collaborate to engineer global marketing and sales programs.

According to Cisco officials, it's a no-brainer move, given HP's extensive reach. Two years ago, after all, Hewlett-Packard surpassed IBM to become the world's largest technology vendor.

HP has since notched a couple of important milestones, in 2007 becoming the first technology vendor to crack the $100 billion mark, and just three months ago picking up services giant Electronic Data Systems (EDS).

"Many of our customers have trusted relationships with HP for managing a wide array of unified communications and other applications," said Rick McConnell, vice president of Unified Communications Market Development for Cisco, in a statement. "Cisco is committed to working closely with HP to provide our mutual customers more integrated, adaptive collaboration solutions that meet their specific business needs today and tomorrow."

So just what do Cisco and HP have in mind? Call it hand-holding, UC-style. HP services personnel will be trained to help customers identify appropriate UC starting points -- as well as ideal UC solutions -- to achieve particular business results. In addition, officials said, HP services folks will be trained in deploying, managing and supporting integrated HP and Cisco UC solutions.

HP officials, for their part, position the accord as HP covering its bases, so to speak. The technology giant has global strategic alliances with both Cisco and Microsoft, after all, and also integrates Microsoft-based UC offerings. (Microsoft's UC stack is second only to Cisco's, according to market watchers)

"Companies are increasingly transforming their communication and collaboration environments to speed decision making and lower costs. They need to do this without diverting valuable technology resources and driving up operational expenses," said Dan Socci, vice president of network solutions for HP. "HP works with industry-leading unified communications technology providers such as Cisco and Microsoft to provide solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of customers."

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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