They say politics makes for strange bedfellows, but as unified communications continues to evolve, there seems to be a lot of vendors that want to partner with each other these days.
For example, Polycom has extended an existing partnership with Microsoft that will now allow users of Microsoft's Lync software to access room-based videoconferencing systems, which means people sitting at their desks can now watch a meeting that might be taking place halfway around the world, or, more likely, just down the hall.
According to Jim Kruger, vice president of solution product marketing for Polycom, the company expects to continue to reach out to any number of application vendors as the unified communications space continues to develop, but given Microsoft's dominance of the corporate desktop, the relationship with Microsoft is especially important to customers. But it's not exactly clear how much actual momentum Microsoft has with its Lync unified communications software, which is very dependent on upgrades to Microsoft Exchange server to drive adoption.
A recent survey conducted by CompTIA makes it plain that email integration is still a major challenge when it comes to unified communications. But given the overall state of the economy, debates over how much of the email infrastructure should run in the cloud seem to be dragging on Microsoft Exchange server upgrades in the face of other IT priorities. In addition, no one is exactly sure what the relationship between Lync and Skype is going to be now that Microsoft owns the latter, but some form of integration is more than likely.
Of course, there is no doubt that Lync, Skype and Microsoft will one day be a force to be reckoned with in the unified communications space, which is more than likely going to be a good thing in terms of promoting adoption of unified communications across the enterprise. What's unclear is just how long all this is actually going to take to play out. In the meantime, it looks like all the vendors in the unified communications space are trying to make nice with one another in the hopes of growing the overall market. Whether things stay that way once unified communications finally goes mainstream is anybody's guess, so right now customers might as well enjoy this period of relative unified communications detente while it lasts.