Cisco, HP Skirmish Takes Nasty Twist

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Cisco Systems may have hammered the final nail into the coffin that is its long-standing partnership with HP, ditching HP as a channel partner as the two companies' relationship becomes more and more frosty.

In a blog post, Cisco Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels Keith Goodwin wrote on Thursday that come April 30, 2010, when HP's System Integrator contract with Cisco expires, Cisco will not renew it, meaning HP will no longer be a Cisco Certified Channel or Global Service Alliance Partner.

Cisco would not discuss its terminated partnership with HP and instead pointed to Goodwin's blog post. HP told that it has seen Goodwin's post and has no comment at this time.

"Over the last few years our relationship with HP has evolved from a partner to companies with different and conflicting visions of how to deliver value to customers," Goodwin wrote. "Despite this shift in industry dynamics, HP had remained a Cisco Certified Channel Partner. Being a Cisco Certified Channel Partner has numerous benefits including access to proprietary information (such as product roadmaps) and partner profitability initiatives. Given the evolution of our relationship it simply no longer makes sense to provide these benefits to HP."

Dissolving HP's status as a Cisco partner -- a relationship that has spanned roughly two decades -- opens the door for Cisco to directly compete against its former partner and current foe while maintaining confidence from its customers and partners, Goodwin wrote.

"We are taking this action to be transparent to both partners and customers - we will compete with HP for future business," he wrote. "That said our top priority is our customers. Our responsibility as a leader in the IT industry is to ensure we focus on our customers as our top priority amidst shifting industry dynamics."

Goodwin's comments about "different and conflicting visions" for Cisco and HP stem from a recently rekindled and oft contentious competition between the two powerhouses. At last year's Cisco Partner Summit, Cisco executives drew a line in the sand and noted that its competition with HP is no longer spirited, but instead cut-throat.

The kerfuffle between Cisco and HP grew as the two companies continually dipped their hands in the others' respective technology cookie jar: HP gaining networking market share with its HP ProCurve line of gear; Cisco going after blade server and data center customers with its Unified Computing System (UCS) last March; HP partnering with Microsoft for VoIP and unified communications; and ultimately exploding into rumored price wars and ultimatums where both HP and Cisco allegedly leaned on their partners to beat the other out of deals by any means necessary.

And while Goodwin essentially wrote that HP's days as a Cisco partner are kaput, he said the pair of high-tech giants' paths may cross again.

"... we have already reached out to HP to begin the discussion around a new agreement that ensures business continuity for existing customers and better reflects the current state of our relationship," Goodwin wrote. "We will also honor Cisco customer service contracts with HP for their duration."

Later, Goodwin added that "we will continue to work with HP wherever our customers expect it and where it makes sense for our business."

For HP, however, the loss of Cisco as a provider of networking equipment was not only inevitable, but also not a real concern.

In addition to its ProCurve product line, HP appears to already have its ducks in a row to forge on without Cisco and to have been preparing for a Cisco-less future. Last year, HP scooped up ailing networking pioneer 3Com in a $2.7 billion acquisition that gives HP 3Com's roster of H3C networking switches. The 3Com acquisition is expected to close shortly.

Furthermore, HP is building its storage component relationships with other vendors. QLogic on Thursday said that HP will be reselling its 5800V and 5802V series of 8-Gbit Fibre Channel switches to go with its BladeSystem servers and its MSA and EVA storage lines.

HP is also not the only company that has been cut off by Cisco. ChannelWeb U.K., a sister publication of, reported this week, that Cisco cancelled the development of the Cisco Nexus 4001d blade switch, which was designed to be compatible with Dell's M1000e blade chassis.

The Cisco Nexus 4001d blade switch was originally planned to be released next month, CRN U.K. reported.


NEXT: What Does The Split Mean For Partners?

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