HP, Microsoft, Polycom Strike At Cisco With Integrated Video Bundles

Strategic allies Hewlett Packard and Polycom, along with Microsoft, are looking to hit Cisco where it hurts by making available to the channel unified communications and video bundles that tie together networking products from all three vendors.

The bundles come in two specific offerings, though only one is available for sale by HP and Polycom partners.

First is HP AppSystem for Microsoft Lync, an integrated UC platform built on HP's converged infrastructure products and intended for the rapid deployment of Microsoft's Lync UC platform on top of those products. AppSystem also offers full integration with Polycom RealPresence -- the software that powers Polycom's telepresence and video products -- and its relevant video and virtual meeting room offerings.

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AppSystem will be sold by HP Technology Services, the computing giant's integrator arm, HP confirmed, and will not be made available to the channel.

The second offering is what the vendors are calling HP and Polycom Rich Media Communications (RMC), which is a bundled offering of HP Networking products -- including its 12500 and 10500 series switches -- and Polycom RealPresence video products sold through VARs.

The idea is that HP and Polycom solution providers will be able to do everything from video installation to desktop and mobile video integration using open standards-based, interoperable products from both vendors, with multi-layer security available to protect all of the various applications. RealPresence integrates with Microsoft's Lync, and Polycom's CX7000 telepresence line is custom-built for Lync integration, with a Lync client embedded in the system.

Easy interoperability and unified access to UC and video assets is the goal of the bundles, according to the vendors.

"One thing we hear consistently is that it is complex to bring all these different solutions together and provide unified access to the user," Kowshik Bhat, global solutions marketing manager for HP Networking, told CRN. "This is exactly the problem we are addressing."

Pricing for RMC deployments depends on the products and services being bundled, according to an HP spokesperson. The RMC bundles are available now from HP and Polycom partners.

HP and Polycom are tightly aligned against a mutual enemy -- Cisco -- and the two vendors have continued to strengthen their longstanding relationship. Last summer, Polycom acquired HP's video and telepresence business and also became the exclusive video product for HP's reseller and integrator businesses.

Susan Hayden, executive vice president, strategic alliances at Polycom, noted, however, that RMC is the first integrated, all-in-one solution bundle to come from the two vendors with the intent of being sold through the channel. Partners should expect more such offers in the future, she said.

Although the bundles focus on HP and Polycom products coupled with Microsoft's Lync platform, partners focused on other UC platforms can also integrate with HP and Polycom solutions. Bundled solutions focused on UC and video also create substantial drag for data networking products and services, Bhat noted, particularly to optimize and update a customer's infrastructure.

The vendors see much cross-sell opportunity among their respective channels. Polycom in particular has sought about identifying those solution providers certified across HP, Polycom and Microsoft -- a program Hayden said was called the "All-Up" program internally at Polycom -- and HP and Polycom are focused on joint marketing and channel program development for those particular partners.

Both vendors continue to attack Cisco's dominance in networking and video from different angles: HP through HP Networking and its overall converged infrastructure strategy as an architectural alternative to Cisco, and Polycom through partnerships and a beefed-up channel program to challenge Cisco's enterprise video supremacy following its 2010 acquisition of Tandberg.