Cisco, Microsoft: New Partnership Coming?
The VAR Guy picked a great week to visit Silicon Valley. First, some trusted local sources described how Cisco’s presence technology may support Apple’s iPhone and other smart phones. Now, he’s hearing chatter about a possible Cisco-Microsoft partnership in the unified communications space.
For those who missed the opening credits, here’s our story far: Microsoft works most closely with Nortel Networks in the unified communications sector. This approach allows Microsoft to gain knowledge while potentially slowing down an industry leader (in this case, Cisco). Microsoft has used this tactic in the Linux industry (partnering with Novell rather than Red Hat), databases (Sybase rather than Oracle) and browsers (Spyglass rather than Netscape).
Still, Cisco and Microsoft need each other because the vast majority of businesses run Windows servers and Cisco switches. And VARs need a Cisco-Microsoft deal because it would allow the vast majority of the channel to promote a unified network/software infrastructure.
In fact, The VAR Guy hears there could be a meeting of the minds at VoiceCon Spring in Orlando next month. Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski takes the stage on March 6. But he might want to reserve a seat for the following day’s presentations. That’s when Cisco’s Charles Giancarlo and Microsoft’s Jeff Raikes are scheduled to deliver back-to-back keynotes.
Hmmm… What could Cisco and Microsoft be up to? It’s unclear if Giancarlo and Raikes will make a joint announcement. But there’s lots of chatter about Cisco and Microsoft working on some new telepresence and unified communications efforts. Already, Cisco’s presence technology can gather dataâ€”names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc.â€”from Microsoft’s Active Directory, one savvy source notes.
The VAR Guy can’t predict with certainty if a new partnership is coming. But those in the know say it’s highly likely Cisco and Microsoft will call for collaboration at VoiceCon.