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As HP winds down VCX, the company will be directing customers and channel partners toward VoIP and UC solutions from a handful of strategic partners.
Specifically, HP is steering UC customers with 250 seats and above toward Microsoft's fast-growing Lync platform, HP's Hilton said. For smaller customers, HP will focus on partnerships with ShoreTel and Aastra, the former predominantly in North America and parts of Asia, and the latter mostly in the EMEA region.
"You can't have a strong relationship with your partners if you're competing with them," Hilton said. "Routing, switching, management -- these things are our business. From a business perspective, it makes more sense to partner."
HP also partners with Avaya, though primarily for its direct and enterprise services engagements, and Hilton said HP is also fine with solutions using other vendors' products that can interoperate with HP's, including Cisco.
Not surprisingly, HP's Microsoft Lync relationship has blossomed. Having been strategic allies for decades, the two tech giants in May 2009 unveiled a $180 million, four-year global initiative to partner on integrated UC solutions that extended to Microsoft's Office Communications Server (OCS), the forerunner of Lync. In September 2011, HP released a Lync-optimized desk phone.
That relationship has continued, and earlier this week HP unveiled an SMB channel initiative at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto. It's the first time HP and Microsoft have jointly come out with a specific UC channel program, and it includes tested and validated reference architectures for customers of 250 to 2,500 employees, customizable demand-generation campaigns, a range of sales and technical training resources, inclusion in Microsoft's Solution Incentives Program, and marketing collateral.
"With the HP UC&C with Microsoft Lync solution, you have access to the most comprehensive Lync portfolio in the marketplace from two Gartner Magic Quadrant leaders," wrote Terry Ann Fitzgerald, SMB solutions marketing manager for HP Networking, in a Monday post to the HP Networking corporate blog. "The channel toolkit will help you start new conversations, expand your revenue opportunities and shorten your sales cycle."
"We know Lync is taking off; we work with some [partners] who we think are strong partners with a good future in UC, and we think it's in the best interest of our customer base," Hilton told CRN. "Looking at something like VCX, it's a good, solid product. But investment is prohibitive, and it's crowding and confusing the market. A few of our partners are excited at the opportunity and are jumping in with both feet with Microsoft. If they don't want to change, it'll be more difficult for them to be competitive longer term."
"We have been consistent in executing on our [UC and collaboration] strategy with choice and flexibility," said Kash Shaikh, director of marketing for HP Networking. "All of these partners we are working with are best-in-class and have been innovating in this area."
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