Monday, January 8, 2007

HP and Tandberg - "Federated" Videoconferencing

I've been out the blogging groove a bit, and wanted to draw attention to a brief post on Friday from Andy Abramson (and others) about some news from HP and Tandberg. The news was actually announced last Wednesday, but hat tip to Andy for spotting it.

Basically, the two companies have agreed to make their videoconferencing solutions interoperable. I've been posting about this space a bit lately, and these companies have - for the time being - been left in the wake of Cisco's TelePresence launch, which I've also been following.

I just wanted to say I think this could be a smart move, as Tandberg has the installed customer base, and HP has the super-duper high end Halo system. Tandberg has a complete product family for all levels of videoconferencing needs, but they do not have something as high end as HP or Cisco. With a $425,000 price tag, Halo has a pretty limited market, so there could be a good strategic fit here.

Of course it remains to be seen if and how this could be a win/win. By exposing Halo to Tandberg's huge customer base, HP gets a great demo opportunity, which could lead to more Halo sales, possibly at Tandberg's expense. On the other hand, Tandberg gets to extend the Halo experience to its customers without having to invest to build it themselves.

I'm sure they'll figure this out - these are pretty smart companies, and no doubt they're all watching closely to see how the new kid on the block, Cisco does with TelePresence. What I find interesting here is that Tandberg and HP are doing a form of video federating or peering, much like what carriers are starting to do now with VoIP. This, to me, is very much in the spirit of IP, and supporting open systems and standards. They see the benefit of strength in numbers, and I think they're right.

Cisco, on the other hand, is taking more of a Voice 1.0 approach, with a proprietary, self-created system. You have to have Cisco infrastructure to deploy TelePresence, and it's a stark contrast to what HP and Tandberg are doing. It's too early to tell whether one or both of these models will work, but you have to give credit to these twp companies just for trying to figure out how to work together.

That begs the question about the other big player in this space - Polycom, who has a high end solution of their own. I can't see them throwing their hat in with Tandberg - that's just too competitive. And don't see Cisco opening up their tent to them either - they're trying to conquer this market themselves right now.


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