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The decision to make only maintenance updates to VCX going forward and not use some of HP's hefty $2.9 billion annual research and development budget to make major additions or upgrades to the platform came from HP's top product development executives, including HP Networking Senior Vice President and General Manager Marius Haas, according to HP executives.
As far as how long VCX will be available for partners to resell, that decision will ultimately be based on customer feedback and continued sales of the VCX product family, said Mark Hilton, director of product marketing for HP Networking.
"The signal will come to us based on volume -- the signal to make a decision on an end-of-sale," said Hilton. "When the market basically tells us to stop selling that product and it gets to be too expensive for inventory or supply chain. We don't have a fixed date at all. We see what the demand is as we move more into this maintenance mode. It could be years. It just depends on the kind of volume."
HP-3Com partners, however, say they feel the demise of the product is a foregone conclusion. In fact, several VARs say they had been told privately by HP insiders to expect an "end of life" notice on VCX sometime in the spring.
HP executives interviewed by CRN vehemently denied that is the case.
"We have been told that the VCX is going to be discontinued very soon," said a solution provider, who did not want to be identified. "We feel that they are casting aside a major product. And I get that we're not major financially or more than a tiny piece of HP's networking revenue. But just the sheer lunacy of giving your competitor any type of wedge. You're not an end-to-end-provider anymore."
Indeed, HP 3Com partners contend that HP is making a strategic networking misstep with the VCX changes that gives rival Cisco an opening even as HP mounts a massive networking battle with Cisco. “This is a marketing dream for Cisco,” complained one top HP 3Com VCX voice solution provider. “Don’t think they won’t go crazy with it!”
“I really, really don’t think HP understands the ramifications of this,” said another solution provider, who did not want to be identified. He said the IP PBX voice change effectively signals HP's reluctance to be an "end to end" voice/data networking provider. "Cisco is going to come in and mop up every single deal that HP’s in here," he said.
Banic said solution providers should not get "too wound up" about the VCX shift.
"We’re not taking the product away from you,” he said. “If you feel concerned about not wanting to continue to go to market with us, with some of these partner-based solutions, you are missing an opportunity.”
UC offerings made by HP strategic partners, such as Microsoft's Lync suite, are simply more advanced, according to HP.
Hilton says that "interoperating with best of breed [products] is the underpinnings" of HP's long-standing strategic alliance program, now known as AllianceOne. "We don't necessarily pursue an end-to-end solution as a value proposition," he said. "We want to be a preferred supplier of infrastructure, and that suggests we need to work with application vendors to fill out that solution. Maybe others have taken a different approach to say, 'We want to offer soup-to-nuts.' But this is consistent with our strategy, that we've been touting for years.”