Interop: HP, Microsoft Show Fruits Of $180 Million UC Venture

joint $180 million investment

At Interop Las Vegas 2009, the two companies took the keynote stage to demonstrate the early fruits of the four-year endeavor, which will yield products and services around UC and collaboration.

"We're going to change the game. We're going to change the rules," said Marius Haas, senior vice president and general manager for HP's ProCurve Networking division. "It's not just words. It's not just promises. It's reality."

Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's Technology Solutions Group, added that the focus of the pairing with Microsoft is to connect employees, partners and customers while delivering unified communications solutions that offer a total cost of ownership lower than others in the market. The alliance ultimately answers the question: "What can we do that will deliver the best value to you?" Livermore said.

Livermore said the Microsoft and HP pairing will be the only team that offers the server, networking and storage technology along with the applications, software and management capabilities to make it all work together.

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"Some of our competitors talk about it, but HP and Microsoft together have a portfolio that no one else can match," she said.

Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft's Business Division, added that the alliance is bent on making applications, hardware, software and the entire end-to-end ecosystem "hang together" and create an environment "where the whole is greater than its parts."

"At its heart, unified communications and collaboration are about business productivity," he said. "We're making this entire fabric of human integration wider and stronger."

Using an HP TouchSmart PC, Microsoft and HP showed off some of the capabilities unlocked through the alliance.

The companies showed how to access Microsoft's Office Communicator UC client from the TouchSmart to launch impromptu video and voice conferences and determine users' presence statuses.

They illustrated how documents can be shared and edited using Microsoft Office SharePoint and highlighted how users, regardless of operating system, can join meetings and share data across the network using Microsoft's software within seconds, a dramatic change to the several minutes it takes to set up conferences using other solutions, Elop pointed out.

At one point, Warren Barkley, senior director for the Office Communications Partner Engineering team in the Unified Communications division at Microsoft, pointed out that one of the meeting's participants was joining via a $300 HP Mini notebook, which runs roughly the same cost as a "generic IP phone" from one of the two companies' biggest competitors.

Additionally, the companies illustrated how HP has enhanced its Halo Telepresence Solutions, which is now under HP's ProCurve umbrella, to deliver high-quality videoconferencing to desktops and laptops, taking telepresence out of high-end rooms and delivering it to the end point regardless of location. As part of the demonstration, the companies used Halo on stage to hold an impromptu videoconference with offices in Bangalore and a customer in Singapore, all in realtime.

"People can participate in a very high-quality conference from anywhere," Elop said.

The two companies already share roughly 100,000 joint customers, Livermore said, a number both expect to grow as the alliance takes hold and products and services become available.

Already in the works through the HP and Microsoft UC collaboration alliance are a host of products and services that span Microsoft's Office SharePoint Server, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS), as well as HP's ProCurve networking gear.

Additionally, HP will certify the HP dx9000 TouchSmart Business PC and select smartphones for Microsoft unified communications software such as Office Communicator. HP also will deliver new IP desk phones certified for Microsoft OCS and other unified communications tools.

As demonstrated at Interop, HP and Microsoft will offer end-point interoperability with HP Halo Telepresence Solutions and OCS-based unified conferencing to enable remote participation for any OCS-enabled PC to join telepresence conferences.

The companies also are set to launch a full set of services including assessment, architecture planning and design, implementation, monitoring, management and support for software, hardware, network, server, storage and infrastructure components.

HP and Microsoft also will provide services for customers who seek to run their technology on-premise, fully outsource or a combination of the two while also working together to address realtime collaboration needs through HP Halo Managed Services and HP ProCurve products.

The two companies will assign dedicated sales teams to their joint solutions and train thousands of technical and delivery personnel. They also will showcase the joint offerings in Microsoft Technology Centers and HP Customer Briefing Centers worldwide.

HP also is expected to launch financing and trade-in programs through HP Financial Services to accelerate the adoption of the joint solutions.