Microsoft “Following” Cisco’s Unified Lead?
The VAR Guy is going to throw a little gasoline on the unified communications fire. Microsoft has spent recent weeks formalizing is enterprise partner strategy. But a source close to Cisco says the Microsoft strategy is nothing more than an imitation of an old Cisco game plan. If these were two ladies, The VAR Guy would pull up a chair in anticipation of a compelling cat fight. But in this case, it’s more like clash of the titans.
First, some background. Ziff Davis Enterprise earlier today examined Microsoft’s enterprise partner strategy. A few folks close to Cisco took issue with the report. “One could argue that no one knows the enterprise market better than Cisco and what MSFT describes … Cisco implemented more than 3 years ago,” noted one outspoken critic.
“Oh really? Prove it,” The VAR Guy thought to himself. Sure enough, the outspoken source responded with a Web link to a 2003 piece from VARBusiness, which basically showed Microsoft’s current strategy reflects Cisco’s 2003 partner efforts. (It pains The VAR Guy to link over to a legacy channel publication that doesn’t even have its own URL anymore. But he had to give credit where credit was due.)
Normally, The VAR Guy wouldn’t care much about this case of “he said, she said.” Microsoft has been lifting — um, emulating — rival business plans since the company’s inception. That’s what makes the software company so great … er, or at least so dominant.
But this latest showdown between Cisco and Microsoft is particularly of interest. As one source recently pointed out, the battle for unified communications won’t involve CIOs — at least not fully. Rather, it’s Cisco solutions providers against Microsoft ISVs (each company’s most influential customer base).Â That’s a battle The VAR Guy will probably spend far too much time watching.