Polycoms HP Collaboration Buy Makes Life Easier for Partners

Polycom Inc. is buying HPs Visual Collaboration unit in a move that leaders from both companies hailed as positive for channel partners.

The deal, valued at $89 million, makes Polycom the exclusive telepresence provider for HP and means Polycoms video applications will run within HPs webOS platform, acquired in the Palm takeover, and TouchPad computers. It also calls for HP salespeople direct and indirect to resell Polycoms telespresence, and some Unified Communications (UC), products to enterprises and other businesses.

This is a great opportunity for partners,” said Andy Miller, president and CEO of Polycom, because VARs, VADs, dealers and other channel partners will gain more reach. Its a win-win for everyone,” he added on a Wednesday webcast.

Shane Robison, HPs chief strategy and technology officer, agreed. This makes life easier for [partners],” because a combined platform will allow for smoother provisioning and oversight, he said.

To that point, Polycom is taking over all of HPs Visual Collaboration assets, which include the Halo conferencing, video and webcast products, and a managed services business.

But Polycom isnt putting all its partnership eggs in HPs basket. Rather, on Wednesday, the UC giant said its also working with Microsoft Corp. The aim is to integrate Polycoms telepresence technology into Microsofts Lync platform, a UC system that combines voice, IM, audio, video and Web conferencing. The project has been codenamed Rally.” The companies further plan to make Polycom the first provider to integrate its platform with Microsofts Office 365 cloud service.

Polycoms work with HP and Microsoft is aimed at making the company a stronger UC rival to Cisco Systems Inc.

“One thing in common that HP and Polycom have is a competitor, which is Cisco Systems,” Miller told Reuters.

Thats because Cisco last year gobbled up 50 percent of worldwide enterprises telepresence and video sales after it bought Tandberg. According to Infonetics Research, that merger put Polycom in the No. 2 slot behind Cisco. In response, Polycom has spent the intervening months partnering with companies including Juniper and Avaya and, now, HP and Microsoft.

The HP Visual Collaboration purchase is expected to close in the third quarter.

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