It should be apparent by now that there is a mad scramble for positioning in the emerging unified communications market between just about every major vendor. Today, for instance, Polycom not only announced an alliance with Hewlett-Packard that includes acquiring that company's unified communications products and services, it also announced the formation of an Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC) designed to foster interoperability among providers of unified communications products and services.
In the grand scheme of the big unified communications game, the HP products in this space are inconsequential. Longer term, however, don't be too surprised to see Polycom move closer to HP as part of an effort to become more of a software company that leverages core networking infrastructure provided by HP, which is a transition that both companies are hoping to smooth by mutually supporting each other's managed services offerings.
In addition to making nice with HP, Polycom today also tipped its hat in the direction of Microsoft by promising to better integrate Polycom systems with Microsoft's recently announced Lync initiative.
Taken together, Polycom CEO Andrew Miller says these alliances are all about increasing interoperability in order to smooth customer adoption. While pulling together more than 14 service providers in support of the OVCC represents a noble goal in the pursuit of delivering interoperable UC services, it's also clear that these moves are just as much about finding ways to forestall Cisco, which has been making inroads into unified communications via internally developed products and the acquisition of Tandberg.
To one degree or another, the IT industry has always reflected the fractured politics of medieval nation states. The only thing that usually prevents a complete breakdown is mutual interest in generating revenues. So the sooner all players in the unified communications space foster true interoperability between unified communications, the sooner the industry can get on with expanding demand for these services. Until then, it's going to be pretty much vendor politics as usual.