HP Allies With Polycom For Video, Cuts Ties With Tandberg


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In another strategic partnering twist with implications for the HP-versus-Cisco rivalry, HP plans to sell Polycom's complete portfolio of voice and video technologies and also partner with the videoconferencing stalwart on go-to-market strategy and future product development.

At the same time, according to reports, HP has also cut ties with Polycom rival Tandberg, with whom it had a similar sales agreement for several years. Tandberg is in the process of being acquired by HP rival Cisco.

Polycom confirmed the HP-Polycom partnership to ChannelWeb on Sunday after a report by Reuters about the deal surfaced late Friday night.

According to a Polycom spokesperson, the deal is set to be officially announced Monday. Under the terms of the agreement, HP will sell Polycom's full line through its Unified Communications and Collaboration Services group, and provide interoperability between Polycom telepresence and video conferencing systems with HP's Halo telepresence systems.

"Adoption of visual communications is growing rapidly and teaming with HP will increase the global market presence for Polycom's standards-based solutions that combine market-leading performance with flexibility and investment protection," said Bob Hagerty, Polycom CEO, in a statement e-mailed to ChannelWeb. "We are excited to expand our relationship with HP to leverage the synergies with other Polycom Open Collaboration Network partners to deliver seamlessly interoperable UC solutions and services to customers."

Added Mark Golden, Vice President of Network Services at HP, "With the addition of Polycom technologies to our portfolio, HP can provide clients around the world with a complete range of open voice and visual communication solutions that simplify business communications while speeding collaboration with clients and key partners."

Reuters reported late Friday that HP was set to ally with Polycom and that it had cut ties with Tandberg.

Richard Skoba, director of worldwide strategy, unified communication and and collaboration, HP Services, told Reuters, "What's changed in the relationship is that we've now chosen to go with Polycom."

Tandberg could not be reached for comment immediately. Reached by ChannelWeb on Monday, HP said it would continue to support its existing Tandberg customers. Asked if reports of HP ending its sales relationship with Tandberg were accurate, an HP spokesperson said HP "can't comment on the future of our relationship at this time."

Tandberg, which is Polycom's biggest standalone rival in the videoconferencing space, is in the process of being acquired by Cisco. Cisco hasn't offered details on how Tandberg's various video product lines or channels will integrate into its own, but in February suggested it would preserve much of the Tandberg portfolio and will bring Tandberg in under a newly formed Cisco TelePresence Technology Group.

Cisco said last month it would not renew HP's longstanding System Integrator channel contract at the end of April, meaning that HP will no longer be a certified Cisco partner. The move was the latest in the increasingly contentious rivalry between the two tech titans.

For Polycom, a tighter alliance with HP means the latest in a series of strategic moves that finds Polycom allying with everyone from IBM and Juniper to Avaya and Broadsoft.

HP and Polycom are also both strategic partners with Microsoft. Polycom on Monday also announced an expanded portfolio of Polycom VoIP phones for Microsoft Office Communications Server 14.

Polycom has also made recent moves to bolster its partner program in hopes of better competing with Cisco-Tandberg. In January, the company announced Polycom Choice Program, one of three new channel programs focused on better rewards for loyal Polycom VARs, A/V integrators, systems integrators and service providers.

Polycom has been frequently mentioned in recent months as a possible acquisition target. Reports surfaced last week that a U.K.-based investment firm, Apax Partners, was negotiating to take Polycom private for about $3 billion.

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