Microsoft, HP putting $180 million into UC deal

Software, hardware, services are focus

Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard have expanded their partnership to develop and sell a common platform for delivering voice, video and messaging services to office workers.

Microsoft and HP Tuesday announced a four-year, agreement to invest as much as $180 million in building a complete corporate infrastructure for unified communications and collaboration.

Short on specifics but long on ambition, the two will combine software, hardware and professional services around a core group of products that include Microsoft's SharePoint Server, Exchange and Office Communications Server (OCS), and HP's ProCurve networking hardware. There are versions of all three of the Microsoft servers available now and Microsoft will ship upgrades on each of them during the length of the partnership.

Slideshow: Products to be shown at Interop

The announcement was made at the Interop IT Expo and Conference going on this week in Las Vegas.

The two companies have a longstanding partnership around everything from the client operating system to server-based applications. Their Frontline Partnership is more than 20 years old and the two said the UC deal is an outgrowth of that partnership.

The deal is not exclusive, however, as Microsoft has similar UC partnerships with Cisco, Nortel and others.

Microsoft and HP plan to initially demonstrate at Interop interoperability between Microsoft's OCS conferencing capabilities and HP's Halo Telepresence audio visual and conferencing technology. The companies said Halo and Halo-based services would ultimately be updated to support OCS so that users at an OCS-enabled PC can join telepresence conferences.

Halo includes gateway technology for integration with Tandberg video conferencing technology.

As part of the partnership, the two will collaborate on product development around SharePoint, Exchange, OCS and HP's ProCurve networking hardware.

Manfred Arndt, distinguished technologist in convergence solutions for HP, would not discuss particular products on the drawing board, but did say they will be stand-alone and not add-ons to existing technology.

In addition, HP plans to certify for OCS its HP dx9000 TouchSmart Business PC and specific models of its smartphones. HP also will develop IP desk phones certified for the Microsoft UC infrastructure.

In terms of professional services, the two will offer such specialties as assessment, architecture planning, design, implementation, monitoring, management and support.

The companies also will target service providers that could offer hosted services. Microsoft has a similar deal with Nortel to bring UC capabilities to the cloud.

HP plans to train several thousands technicians and services staff to support the UC professional services. The two companies also will ramp up joint marketing and sales.

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