HP Kicks Off Distribution Of Video Collaboration Portfolio

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Hewlett Packard on Wednesday confirmed availability of its new video unified communications products through Ingram Micro, a key step as HP moves further into the business video space and prepares to go toe-to-toe with established market players like Cisco.

HP confirmed the new products in November under the banner of HP Visual Collaboration. Ingram Micro is the first distributor to carry the products, but according to HP, the relationship is not exclusive and HP will add other distributors down the road.

HP is also teeing up a number of different channel training and incentive programs in an all-out effort to attract more UC solution providers and audio/visual integrators to its stable.

"A lot of our traditional partners have a very focused IT practice specifically in the data center," said Frank Cohen, director, worldwide channels for HP Visual Collaboration, in an interview with CRN. "As you know, one of the biggest drivers in network upgrades is video technology, which is one of the fastest-growing technologies in high-tech today. So there's a lot of opportunity."

The video offerings include HP's Visual Collaboration Desktop (listed at $125 license per 25 seats), a software client for PCs and notebooks; HP Visual Collaboration Executive Desktop ($2,599), which is an HP TouchSmart 600 Quad pre-loaded with Visual Collaboration software and bundled with a camera and headsets, and two conference room video systems, the HP Visual Collaboration Room 100 ($4,799) and Room 220 ($9,499).

Its video software operates with x86 server infrastructures, and can be deployed on-premise, in a hosted model, or through service providers via the cloud. Other key products are the HP Visual Collaboration Router ($9,999 for 100 concurrent connections), which is built on HP-standard server appliances, and Visual Collaboration Gateway ($4,999-$7,499), which can connect H.323 and SIP protocols to migrate companies from their existing videoconferencing products.

At the core of the overall product line is HP Visual Collaboration Portal ($9,999), which enables IT managers to remotely configure, authenticate and license system components, and comes preconfigured on HP ProLiant DL360 servers.

Much of the software, which is based on the scalable video coding (SVC) technology for supporting HD video and lower deployment costs, comes from upstart video vendor Vidyo, whose scalable video coding (SVC)-based software enables the Visual Collaboration products and is under OEM agreement by HP. HP and Vidyo originally previewed their video channel partnership last summer, with the announcement of a strategic alliance.

HP will also continue to support its Halo line of telepresence products, Cohen noted.

In line with the Ingram Micro distribution announcement, HP will host a series of VAR boot camps devoted to educating partners about HP's video UC play. The first is Wednesday in Cupertino, Calif. at HP's Executive Briefing Center, while two more are planned for February in Plano, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y.

HP wants not only to help its existing partners expand their HP businesses by adding video, but also to attract A/V integrators and video specialists who might have little-to-no business with HP already.

"There is a set of traditional A/V integrators that have a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge selling, deploying and supporting videoconferencing solutions," Cohen said. "Many of them don't view themselves as traditional IT resellers, so one of the opportunities for us is to supplement the significant ecosystem of partners we have at HP with partners that aren't traditionally IT partners to our space."

"There's still an opportunity for resellers to get into this space," he said. "Video penetration is still relatively small. The world has changed significantly over the last couple years, and many [partners] assumed at some point that HP, being the largest IT company in the world, would eventually be a major player in this area. We've had a positive reception from the large, traditional A/V integrators in the U.S."

Next: HP's Challenge To The Video Space

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