Microsoft and Cisco are planning to get a lot cosier with seven initiatives announced yesterday where the two companies will collaborate with one another.
Steve Ballmer, CEO or Microsoft, and John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, shared a stage in New York where they talked about the areas where the two IT giants plan to work together, mainly on increasing interoperability between their systems.
Ballmer points out that, while the companies compete in areas like unified communications, they do already work togetehr on interoperability.
Goig forward, he says, customers want to take advantage of new business scenarios delivers by mobile devices, increased stroage and faster bandwidth.
"Interoperability between our products will reduce complexity for customers and allow them to focus on creating strategic advantage rather then on solving the issues that arise when information technology systems don't work together well. That's good for them, and ultimately it's good for us."
Ballmer explains that there are seven initiatives where Microsoft and Cisco are focusing our joint investments.
"These range from security, where we have been cooperating on integration of Cisco's Network Admission Control and Microsoft's Network Access Protection since 2004, to network infrastructure optimisation, where the two companies are working to develop a joint architectural blueprint that will help customers reduce costs by deploying solutions that combine Microsoft and Cisco products in a consistent way.
"For our government customers, we recently announced a jointly developed reference architecture that will help government agencies communicate with each other while better-protecting sensitive information. And we're working together to make it easier for consumers to move TV and digital video wirelessly in the home."
Chambers adds: "Nearly every customer that we serve has a combination of Cisco and Microsoft technologies as critical components of their information infrastructure. Because the intersection of networking and software is so essential to business success today, we recognize how important it is that we work together to make sure that our products interoperate as seamlessly and as smoothly as possible.
"One of the reasons we are having these discussions is to make clear just how extensive the collaboration between Cisco and Microsoft really is.
"In total, Cisco and Microsoft have invested close to $40-million in our joint work together and have over 140 people around the globe who have been involved in these efforts," Chamber adds.
"Other areas where we have interoperability initiatives include unified communications, systems management, mobile devices, IPTV, and more. In every case, the goal is to improve the ability of our products to work together so that customers have more choice when it comes to technology infrastructure and can take better advantage of the new opportunities and experiences that the Internet promises to deliver."
While the two companies do compete in the unified communications arena, the two CEOs stress that interoperability is still vital.
"We listen to our customers and recognize that the likelihood is very high that companies will be using technology from both Microsoft and Cisco as they build out their unified communications infrastructure, so interoperability of our solutions will continue to be a top priority," says Chambers.
"At the same time, this is absolutely an area where we will also compete. Unified communications is an emerging technology where we are engaged in high-stakes competition and where the two companies have very different approaches – Cisco believes that the best way to address customer needs is at the network level, while Microsoft believes software is the best approach."
Ballmer adds that the two companies will continue to compete in this space. "But what makes unified communications interesting is that it's many things-it's instant messaging, unified messaging, voice, video, call centre applications, integration with desktop and enterprise applications.
"We know that customers are going to mix and match these things and some of it may come from Microsoft, some may come from Cisco, and some might come from someone else altogether. That means the interoperability points are really quite critical and we want to ensure that Microsoft and Cisco have the best interoperability in the business."