This syndicated post originally appeared at Yankee Group Blog » Zeus Kerravala.

Amid much speculation that Polycom was on the selling block, with HP being the primary possible acquirer, Polycom made the following announcements this morning:

  • Polycom acquired the Visual Collaboration Unit from HP, which includes all of the Halo products and managed services
  • Polycom and HP inked an agreement where HP would use Polycom as it’s exclusive partner for Telepresence and video UC solutions
  • Polycom announced the creation of the “Open Visual Communications Consortium” with a number of service providers including AT&T, BT conferencing, Global Crossing, Orange Business Services, Telefonica, Verizon and other service providers to drive B2B and B2C adoption of video
  • Polycom and Microsoft announced an expanded partnership that includes two products but at the time of press release did not announce any details on these products

These announcements are an interesting twist in growing saga that is corporate video conferencing.  About a year ago, Cisco closed on the acquisition of Tandberg creating a tremendous amount of speculation that Polycom would be acquired as well.  The logic being that, in an environment where video is becoming a core component of UC, it would be difficult for a video pure play to exist.  Names like Silver Lake (Avaya), Gore Group (Siemens) and Dell were tossed around as possible acquirers, but HP appeared to be the front-runner.  HP made some sense for a couple of reasons:  (1) It had its own niche video unit (Halo) and Polycom would bolster it; and (2) HP could use Polycom to close the product gap with Cisco, who HP appears obsessed with from a competitive standpoint.

These moves create great short-term opportunity for Polycom to try and take a leadership position in video. Over the past few years Polycom has allowed Cisco to be the primary evangelist for corporate video and seemed content to ride the wave Cisco has created.  Polycom now has strategic relationships with two of the largest IT vendors (HP and Microsoft) as well as developing relationships with network service providers, which has typically been an area of exclusivity for Cisco.

While these announcements will create a great short-term opportunity, it’s not a given that Polycom will be able to create long-term differentiation.  Historically Polycom has been great on executing on tactical, short-term opportunities but it’s never managed to think about how to make video part of the DNA of its corporate customers.  Meanwhile Cisco has made video the main focal point for its entire collaboration strategy.

So great short term moves for Polycom… and to Cisco, it’s game on.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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