Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

HP & Cisco: It's All Fun And Games Until Someone Loses A Partnership. . . .

The battle for the hearts, minds and most importantly, pocketbooks of data center managers, escalated yesterday as HP announced they were OEMing a couple of Qlogic fiber channel switches and Cisco ceremoniously booted HP from their premier reseller program. (See Mike Fratto's "Cisco Kicks HP To The Curb".) Tensions have been growing ever since Mark Hurd and the rest of HP management decided to stop treating ProCurve like a red-headed stepchild, and Cisco entered the server market with their UCS.  

Back when Carly Fiorina was CEO at HP (long be for she decided to run for the senate from "Carlyfornia"), HP's compensation system gave bigger commissions for using Cisco's network gear than if they used HP's own ProCurve models. Personally, I think that was just another reason Carly was listed as one of the "Worst CEOs in America." However, it did show that the Cisco/HP relationship was important to both companies, as did the fact that Cisco Call Manager systems were, for a long time, based on HP's DL380 servers.

Among other things, Cisco's announcement said that "being a Cisco Certified Channel Partner has numerous benefits, including access to proprietary information and partner profitability initiatives. Given the evolution of our relationship, it simply no longer makes sense to provide these benefits to HP." I can understand that Cisco is now competing with HP and doesn't want to give them spifs anymore, but anyone at Cisco who believes that throwing HP out of the partner program will keep Cisco's product roadmaps out of the hands of HP's management is deluding themselves. Any secret you tell 12,000 partners will certainly get to your competition.

While the blogosphere has been buzzing about who needs who more, I haven't seen anyone mention that HP isn't the stuffy computer-maker of old. Cutting off HP as a channel partner also means cutting off EDS as a channel partner. With thousands of consultants on the street, if not in the pinstripe suits and wingtips of the Perot era, EDS has influence on customers beyond what HP sans EDS or Cisco does. Cisco's announcement also said "that [their] top priority is our customers. Our responsibility as a leader of in the IT industry is to ensure we focus on our customers as our top priority amidst shifting industry dynamics." I don't understand how a customer that uses EDS as a trusted advisor is better off if Cisco cuts EDS off from information.

It's interesting to think about the powerhouses of the IT business as vertically integrated. HP, and especially IBM, are as much services companies as they are euipment makers. Larry Ellison sees this in his attempt to turn Oracle into Thomas Watson Jr's IBM, and even Dell, with the Perot Systems, is heading in that direction. Cisco is still a product factory and now they're in open warfare with the HP giant.