VoiceCon: HP Clarifies Tandberg Relationship, Touts New Partners, Services

In an interview at VoiceCon in Orlando this week, HP representatives told ChannelWeb that early reports HP had cut ties with Tandberg were inaccurate.

The company will continue to support customers that have Tandberg gear deployed, said Richard Skoba, director of worldwide strategy, unified communication and collaboration for HP Services. HP will also continue to sell Tandberg "for the foreseeable future," even as it's signed an agreement to sell telepresence and UC products from Tandberg rival Polycom.

"We've been asked a lot about it," Skoba said. "We've worked with Tandberg for quite a while and Polycom for quite a while. The decision to go with Polycom for our portfolio was driven around open standards. We will continue to work with Tandberg. There are customers continuing to use Tandberg, and we will continue to support them. For the forseeable future, we'll be doing both."

News of HP breaking with Tandberg swept around the blogosphere last weekend following a report by Reuters, in which Skoba appeared to confirm HP would end the sales relationship. Skoba said in the ChannelWeb interview that's not what he told Reuters.

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"What I said to you is what I said Friday to Reuters," he said. "But we know what makes news."

Skoba said the thing to focus on is HP adding Polycom, which HP was planning to do regardless of its relationship with Tandberg. Tandberg, of course, is in the process of being acquired by HP rival Cisco.

"We were pursuing a Polycom relationship around the IP phones," said Manfred Arndt, distinguished technolgoist at HP ProCurve. "We looked at it and said, should we re-label them as HP phones? But Polycom has good messaging around them, and are known in the market. Through us, customers can come to a single vendor to get what they need rather than have to deal with multiple vendors."

HP's expanded relationship with Polycom was one of several HP announcements from VoiceCon. The tech titan also announced a new line of HP UC&C consulting services designed to help customers better deploy, manage and learn to be comfortable with their UC infrastructures.

"All customers are different and UC is a journey," Skoba said. "It's based on your maturity: how do you operationalize around it? How do you preserve the investments you've already made? Most of the time you're not going to do a rip-and-replace. You're going to need help using what you have based on where you're trying to get to."

Part of the program includes a two-year project with product safety testing and certification organization Underwriters Laboratories. The combined efforts of HP UC&C Business Value Services and HP UC&C Education Services mean new services like HP UC&C Business Value Assessment, which takes customers through cost-analysis of their UC implementation, and several workshops around building the case for UC purchases and creating a roadmap. HP Polycom Services is a specific new service program for designing UC infrastructure with Polycom products.

A number of integrators, including Dimension Data, have started to market similar programs around helping customers better utilize their UC tools. HP's Skoba said HP would consider selling the service as a bundle through the HP channel, but for now it'll come from HP itself.

Elsewhere, HP announced that its UC and collaboration products have been upgraded to support Microsoft Communications Server "14" environments. The relationship with Server "14," which Microsoft itself formally announced at VoiceCon, furthers the UC alliance HP and Microsoft announced a year ago, Skoba said.

Among new offerings are HP Survivable Branch Communication zl Module, which combines Server "14" and ProCurve software within HP ProCurve Switch 8200zl and 5400zl series products. Four HP PCs are also compatible with Server "14" immediately, HP said, including HP TouchSmart 9100 Business PC, HP EliteBook 6930p Notebook PC, and HP EliteBook 8530w and 8730w Mobile Workstations.