Microsoft-Polycom Agreement Aims to Advance UC Adoption
Microsoft and Polycom have entered into a strategic partnership under which both companies will develop and market integrated, standards-based unified communications solutions based on the upcoming version of Microsoft Communications Server. The agreement also signals a planting of the flag in the UC space, with Microsoft declaring its rightful place in unified communications.
Never mind the agreement is based on a technology that hasn’t been released yet; both companies are sinking what amounts to “tens of millions of dollars in significant investment,” said Marc Roberts, vice president of Partner Marketing at Polycom. “This agreement provides for a coordinated investment in product development and marketing, including a roadmap to future solutions and our mutual go-to-market strategy.”
Under the agreement, Polycom will build a set of solutions designed to work specifically with the upcoming version of MCS, code-named “14,” including room-based conferencing systems, desktop phones and endpoints.
Microsoft, for its part, has incorporated a slew of UC features into “14.” “We are creating a more optimized experience for the user,” said Ashima Singhal, group product management for UC partner marketing at Microsoft. “We have invested a lot in beefing up the user experience and to make it more intuitive. ‘14’ will be a full enterprise voice solution.”
By forging this partnership, Polycom and Microsoft have essentially validated Microsoft’s place in the UC space, right down to the mutual channel partner programs. Polycom’s revamped channel program includes a UC specialization, which Roberts said was developed with the Microsoft partnership in mind. “The mechanism for someone engaging with Polycom is to take the UC specialization, and that includes Microsoft components,” he said.
Polycom has done much to keep its platform vendor-neutral through its Open Collaboration Network, but the partnership sends a clear signal that Microsoft now has a permanent spot at the UC table. As the unified communications space continues down its road to maturation, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see additional partnerships of this ilk between other like-minded vendors.