Microsoft (s msft) and Hewlett-Packard (s hpq) said today they’ve teamed up to push Microsoft’s unified communication software and HP gear to enterprise users. The two companies are jointly spending $180 million over the next four years on what they call their Frontline Partnership to develop and market ways to use Microsoft’s communications software in HP’s machines. The partnership can be read as a high-powered endorsements of Microsoft’s communications technology as well as a stab at Cisco (s Csco), which is pushing its own unified communications products.
Cisco has its eye on the collaboration market, which it believes will be worth $34 billion in the coming years. Google (s goog) is also pushing into this space with its Google Apps and other enterprise efforts. But Microsoft isn’t going to sit still while interlopers try to infringe on its business. And with Cisco releasing its own line of servers, HP’s decision to buddy up with Microsoft makes sense.
As for the partnership agreement, the two companies will optimize several of their products so they work easily together, and will train a sales team to sell the optimized products to corporate customers. A quick look at the list of HP products that will work with Microsoft’s SharePoint and other communications gear makes clear how seriously HP hopes to put the hurt on Cisco. Check out what the two companies will work on:
- Tweaking HP’s ProCurve networking products for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office Communications Server
- Adding Microsoft Unified Communications qualification for the HP dx9000 TouchSmart Business PC, select smartphones and new HP IP desk phones
- Offering real-time quality-of-service metrics for the voice and video network over the IP infrastructure using HP Business Technology Optimization (BTO) software and Microsoft Office Communications Server
- Making HP Halo Telepresence Solutions and Microsoft Office Communications Server-based unified conferencing interoperable, enabling remote participants at any Microsoft Office Communication Server-enabled PC to join telepresence conferences
HP will also lend its services arm to the partnership, and will target communication service providers to enable them to offer hosted versions of the Microsoft and HP products. Service providers are key Cisco customers, and a clearly defined target for its new unified computing system. The trends of data and people always being accessible via the web is shifting the way data centers are being designed and provisioned, while the multiple ways to contact people make unified communications a huge opportunity. In this partnership, we’re seeing how Microsoft, HP and Cisco are reacting to these trends reshaping their markets.