Coopetition: Microsoft and Cisco
On the UC front, it’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in the Microsoft v. Cisco battles, but these two firms are actually quite friendly in the bigger picture. Cisco is dominate in networking and Microsoft is dominant in operating systems – and just so happens that many organizations like to network their computers.
At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2013, Cisco announced a new Microsoft joint effort to accelerate the deployment of private and hybrid cloud infrastructure. The effort includes participation from NetApp, Hitachi Data Systems, Dell, and HP – together the firms are investing $100 million with the goal of creating thousands of new private and hybrid clouds.
“Both Cisco and Microsoft are committed to helping partners be the trusted advisors to customers embracing virtualization and cloud computing,” Chad Berndtson wrote in a Cisco blog post. “Our most important task now is to provide joint Cisco and Microsoft channel partners with the air cover needed to help customers simplify their IT operations, create more effective cloud deployments and realize the significant cost savings and efficiency benefits of optimized data centers.”
The program comes after a Cisco and Microsoft pilot that combines Cisco’s Unified Data Center Architecture with Windows Server 2012 Hyper V and System Center 2012.
"Over the last two years Cisco and Microsoft engineering teams have worked diligently to combine our industry-leading technology into integrated data center solutions,” said Padmasree Warrior, Cisco chief technology and strategy officer. “Now, we're taking the next step by investing together to rapidly accelerate demand for our private cloud solutions."
Coopetition is the new normal. It’s critical that companies put aside their differences in specific areas when combining forces benefits the customer. This is a particularly important trait for Microsoft since its moves into UC created competition with several major vendors that openly embrace Windows, Office, and Exchange.
It isn’t just the customers that get caught in the crossfire, but the partners as well. The Microsoft and Cisco channels have considerable overlap. Every vendor wants brand religion from their partners, but vertically stacked vendor solutions are the exception. Vendor evaluations need to include how well they respect and acknowledge their competitors. At a minimum the answer should include open interfaces, but could include joint testing, certifications, support, and even go-to-market initiatives like this one.