Thursday, 2 June 2011

Unified Communications without HP Sauce

It's something I thought I'd never see. HP sold their video conferencing business for $89m to Polycom yesterday.

It's right up there with Shaq O'Neal retiring and Gavin Henson back in the red shirt of Wales (or any rugby shirt for that matter).

Last year, mainly through the acquisition of 3Com, HP made strong and very meaningful moves in stepping up and contending with Cisco. And HP has a strong story, together with its acquisition of Left Hand it had a 'soup to nuts' solution in terms of enterprise servers and storage and the network building blocks were falling into place while their managed service offering was already well established. Compare that with the bitty nature of Cisco's VCE strategy, their manage a trois with VMware and EMC and their hesitant steps into the server market, one of the key elements of their all round story was Unified Communications. And Cisco had done itself proud by buying one of the thorns in Polycom's side, Tandberg, to augment this.

In the light of that, HP's move to sell and effectively yield their UC play to Polycom was an odd decision. Clearly they must not have been happy with the division's performance but they were establishing themselves as a player and you might argue that an acquisition in this area or at least a management shake up might have been the answer rather than blatant surrender.
It will be even more curious to see how HP handle the story as it develops. They usually have an angle to brief its staff so today should be fun from that point of view after the overnight memory downloads.

As Ian French's Twitter one liner asked last night, 'Where does that leave HP on UC?. My response was 'Half way between nowhere and the toilet.'

Stop Press: More details are emerging on this deal which seems to be some kind of technology and service swap. Polycom buys some Halo product assets from HP while HP then contracts back to Polycom for its UC strategy - or so it appears. This seems like an HP version of VCE in the UC sector and to complete the wonderful series of multi-letter acronyms the new strategy has been dubbed Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC).

You couldn't make this crap up. Sadly, someone has defied logic and has done so.

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