Today (August 9, 2010) Microsoft and Polycom made public their future-looking plans to continue to work together to develop and deliver unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions. The two companies have worked together for some time in the UC&C market, for example:

  • Polycom has long designed and sold universal serial bus (USB) and voice over IP (VoIP) phones tuned for Microsoft’s Office Communications Server (OCS) server.
  • Polycom CX5000 began life as the Microsoft RoundTable.
  • The two companies were joined by HP, Juniper Networks, and Logitech/LifeSize Communications as founding members of the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (visit UCIF at

So what’s different and why the public announcement? The two companies are making plain their intent to work together in a strategic fashion.

  • Polycom and Microsoft will continue to design UC&C products and solutions that work well together, with Polycom delivering IP phones tailored for specific uses like lobbies and the reception desk. Polycom is also specifically committing to support Microsoft’s expansion of its video communications capabilities by updating the CX5000, adding additional room-based video endpoints tailored to work with Microsoft OCS and Live Meeting, as well as augmenting existing capabilities to interconnect Polycom videoconferencing endpoints to Microsoft UC&C solutions.
  • Polycom and Microsoft sales enablement efforts are under way to enable highly effective and efficient sales processes that focus on the value of UC&C solutions. Both companies are committing to a coordinated go-to-market program that includes both marketing and messaging activities as well as direct and indirect sales activities.
  • Mark Roberts, Polycom’s VP of partner marketing, spoke to me about the financial commitment of both companies to the efforts. While there was no publicly identified budget, I got the distinct impression that this was to be a multi-year, double-digit million-dollar commitment on the part of both companies.

In my opinion, this last point has the potential to have market influence. With big dollars being committed by both companies to design, develop, and deliver interoperable solutions, the two companies are putting a public face on the intentions of the UCIF. Using published standards and APIs to deliver interoperable solutions allows buyers and architects the choice of best-of-breed components as they design and implement UC&C solutions for their companies. If this model can be applied by all members of the UCIF (UCIF members HP and Vidyo have also already taken a first step in announcing their strategic alliance in June) — and if UCIF membership can be extended to more major UC&C solution developers — then the entire industry can accelerate the rate at which the business results of UC&C buyers are positively affected by their adoption of UC&C.