Microsoft, HP expand unified comms push

New initiatives build on existing partnership

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

The companies plan to spend US$180 million (NZ$300 million) over the next four years on developing products and services for unified communications, and on sales and marketing for those products, says Meg Shea-Chiles, worldwide director for HP's partnership efforts with Microsoft.

The work will include development around HP's ProCurve networking products and Microsoft's Office Communications Server, Office SharePoint Server and Exchange products. HP will also certify its TouchSmart Business PCs and some smartphones for Microsoft's communications software, as well as some new IP desk phones that HP plans to develop.

Microsoft and HP have an existing unified communications partnership that goes back several years. In 2006 they said they would deliver unified communications systems using Microsoft software and HP's blade servers, storage gear and professional services.

HP also partners with Cisco for unified communications. Its ProCurve gear has made the two companies compete more directly, but Shea-Chiles says HP's Cisco partnership continues unchanged.

The joint work will also involve adding greater support for Microsoft's Office Communications Server in HP's Business Technology Optimisation software, including the ability to provide real-time quality-of-service metrics for IP-based voice and video traffic. OCS users will also be able to join telepresence meetings conducted with HP's Halo system.

Forrester forecast in February that the market for unified communications products and services in North America, Europe and Asia would reach US$14.5 billion in 2015, increasing by 36% each year during that period. But it also said the "long awaited takeoff" hinges on more interoperability with business applications.

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