The Microsoft-Cisco meeting of the CEO minds on August 20 was a total non-news event. Microsoft did not set false expectations about that. No one going into the event believed for a moment there would be anything of significance -- especially not a merger/acquisition involving the two players -- on the docket.
The message that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Cisco CEO John Chambers repeatedly tried to hammer home was that the two vendors are establishing a whole new kind of kind of cooperate/compete relationship, the likes of which the industry has never seen. But that claim, too, was equally devoid of any real value.
Many of Microsoft's partners over the years -- Adobe, Apple, IBM, Oracle, Sun, Novell, SugarCRM -- all have been and continue to be Microsoft competitors. Microsoft forges marketing and technology alliances with these partners. Microsoft aso takes them on in hand-to-hand combat. Microsoft shares roadmaps and code with its ISV and OEM partners, while simultaneously plotting how to beat them in the marketplace.
Cisco and Microsoft want customers to believe there's something new and different about how the pair are simultaneously cooperating and competing. They have engineers from both companies working together to make sure their current and future products are interoperable, where appropriate.
The pair outlined their seven top areas of collaboration, going forward. The general areas where they are focusing:
•Wireless & Mobile
•Small and Medium-Sized Business (SMB)
(No surprises there. The seven are also the same areas where the two will most vigorously compete in the coming two to five years.)
How and why is this different from the ways Microsoft works with its other coopetition? It isn't.
Ballmer and Chambers are meeting later today a handful of CIOs who have both Cisco and Microsoft products installed. They'll listen to a litany of complaints, no doubt, about how hard it still is to get Cisco and Microsoft deliverables to interoperate. Is there anything new under the sun? No -- not in terms of customers wanting vendors to make their lives easier, nor in terms of vendors promising customers the moon.
Are there any industry relationships you can think of that actually do offer a better (or even just different) cooperate/compete model?