Partnering Questions Abound For Polycom Following HP Video Buy

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Polycom said Wednesday that its acquisition of HP's Visual Collaboration portfolio and its strategic alliance with HP will be a big positive for the Polycom channel, and will expand Polycom's services and solutions.

But questions still remain about how Polycom will address HP partners going forward, and also what it plans to do about HP's year-old strategic alliance with Vidyo, a Polycom competitor.

Polycom on Wednesday confirmed that it will acquire HP's Visual Collaboration unit, including video telepresence products and managed services, for $89 million in cash.

As part of a broader strategic agreement between the new vendors, HP will now resell Polycom telepresence and video-led UC products exclusively, both for internal HP deployments and through HP's own enterprise services arm. Polycom will also provide software and video applications for use with HP's WebOS platform -- a move that will increase Polycom's presence on the WebOS mobile devices, like TouchPad, that HP is promising.

Polycom will gain control of the full HP Visual Collaboration portfolio, according to Susan Hayden, executive vice president, worldwide marketing for Polycom's go to market organization. That portfolio, which launched in November and was intended to be HP's major competitor in the video and telepresence market dominated by Cisco and Polycom, includes video endpoints and infrastructure products.

"It's a terrific fit between two industry leaders," Hayden told CRN Wednesday. "That a leader like HP would select Polycom as an exclusive provider of UC solutions, both in terms of internal use worldwide as well as a reseller, we feel they're making a tremendous statement about their confidence in us."

The WebOS relationship has a lot of potential, Hayden noted, as HP's tablet and mobile device strategy around WebOS, which HP gained by acquiring Palm in 2010, comes to fruition.

"The idea here is to provide our embedded software technology to provide that world-class telepresence technology onto platforms like mobile tablets," Hayden said.

Polycom has no immediate plans to cut any of HP's Visual Collaboration products, Hayden said. Polycom also hopes to continue the relationships HP has with channel partners who sell Visual Collaboration, as well as open up those partners to what Hayden called "a whole range of Polycom solutions."

"The combination with Polycom will create the strongest end-to-end UC solutions," Hayden said. "This is very positive for those channel partners."

One of the biggest questions following the acquisition is how Polycom will address HP's relationship with Vidyo, the fast-rising videoconferencing upstart whose scalable video coding technology HP OEMs for the Visual Collaboration products.

Asked about the future of that relationship, Hayden said it was something she'll "allow HP to comment on," but said that with the acquisition, Polycom is buying the relationships that are part of the Visual Collaboration unit as well.

"We will need to see if that's the right solution or to use Polycom [software]," Hayden said.

Next: Vidyo CEO Says No Discussions With Polycom Yet

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