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HP, Polycom To Collaborate On Videoconferencing

The agreement to use Polycom technology in HP's unified communications and collaboration portfolio will intensify the already heated competition between HP and Cisco.

The competition between Cisco and Hewlett-Packard became a little more intense Monday. Telepresence provider Polycom announced that it is beefing up its partnership with HP, which plans to utilize Polycom solutions in its expanded unified communications and collaboration services portfolio.

Cisco, which had been providing a range of video-based offerings to HP, recently severed their reseller agreement. In recent months, Cisco has been moving aggressively into data center and server fields, which traditionally have been strong HP turf, while HP has acquired networking company 3Com to better position itself against Cisco.

In another announcement Monday, Polycom said it is expanding its relationship with Microsoft to jointly develop and deliver a UC solutions portfolio. Polycom's voice, video, and related applications will be integrated with Microsoft Office Communications Server R2, Microsoft Communications Server 14, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft SharePoint Server, and Microsoft Active Directory.

The flurry of partnerships is just the most recent in a growing interconnecting and competing cauldron among IT companies. Cisco has been moving aggressively out from its traditional strengths in routers and switches to focus on broader IT spheres, also riding its strength in video. It has formed an important partnership with storage colossus EMC largely through its partial ownership of EMC's VMware unit.

Polycom has moved quickly to take advantage of the changing telepresence, videoconferencing, and video parameters, with the HP deal taking on new significance. "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 Polycom CEO Bob Hagerty in a statement Monday.

HP said it is working with Underwriters Laboratories to standardize IT processes and technologies in a move to speed up knowledge sharing and collaboration between workers and clients. UL, a specialist in product safety testing and certification, will place UL Virtual Workplace consoles on desktops connected through HP's new UC&C infrastructure, HP said.

But it is the fast and furious new developments in video-based technologies that have been driving much of the spate of partnerships and creating fundamental realignments among IT industry players.

Charles Stucki, VP and general manager for the Cisco telepresence solutions business unit, noted Monday that Cisco's telepresence offering has become one of the firm's fastest growing products in its history. "In fact," he said, "It's the first product from the emerging technologies group (a veritable incubator within Cisco) to grow from conception to a billion dollar business in what was an already established market."

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