HP, Microsoft team up for unified-comms push

The companies will invest up to $180m in a four-year collaboration on unified communications, including the integration of SharePoint and Exchange software with ProCurve hardware

HP and Microsoft have unveiled a four-year plan to collaborate on unified communications products and services, with an expected investment of up to $180m (£116m) into product development and services provision.

The deal, announced on Tuesday at the Interop Las Vegas trade show, builds on the Frontline Partnership between Microsoft and HP. The 20-year-old Frontline collaboration is dedicated to ensuring that the two companies' products work together.

Unified communications (UC) refers to efforts to integrate all forms of an organisation's communications — including voice, email, chat and video — as a way of simplifying the systems and reducing costs. The market for UC is expected to grow at a rate of 35.9 percent between now and 2015, according to Forrester figures cited by Microsoft.

The partners will form joint teams to work on integrating Microsoft communications software such as Office SharePoint Server, Exchange Server and Office Communications Server with HP hardware such as the ProCurve networking products.

As part of the plan, HP will obtain Microsoft Unified Communications qualifications for several of its products, including PCs, smartphones and IP desk phones.

For its part, HP will build additional support for Microsoft Office Communications Server into its Business Technology Optimisation (BTO) software. The support will include the ability to provide real-time quality-of-service metrics for IP-based voice and video networks.

In addition, HP Halo Telepresence and Microsoft Office Communications Server products will be made interoperable, which should allow users with Office Communication Server-enabled PCs to join Halo Telepresence conferences.

The companies said they will also offer services around the implementation and support of their jointly offered communications products.

Other companies pursuing the UC market include IBM, which said it would invest $1bn in the area over the next three years, and Cisco.