Polycom Acquires HP Teleconferencing Unit

HP (NYSE:HPQ) is selling its visual collaboration business unit to Polycom (NASDAQ:PLCM). The deal is valued at $89 million and is expected to close by August 1st.

Under the terms of the deal, Polycom will be acquiring all the assets of HP’s Visual Collaboration business which includes HP’s Halo telepresence systems. HP isn’t entirely walking away from the collaboration business, rather the plan is to have strategic partnership with Polycom. Polycom will serve as a key partner to HP for both internal deployments at HP as well as through the HP sales channel.

“We’ve had a relationship with Polycom for years,” Shane Robison, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer at HP said during a webcast, discussing the acquisition. “This just brings things together into one package and allows our services organization to deploy for customers in a much more seamless way.”

In addition to the acquisition of HP’s video business, Polycom announced the formation of the Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC). The OVCC is starting off with 14 members including : Airtel, AT&T, BCS Global, BT Conferencing, Cable&Wireless Worldwide, Global Crossing, Glowpoint, iFormata Communications, Masergy, Orange Business Services, PCCW Global, Telefonica, Telstra, and Verizon.

The goal of the OVCC is create seamless interoperability for video collaboration across the cloud.

Part of the OVCC platform includes an extension of the partnership that Polycom has with Juniper Networks. Polycom and Juniper announced a partnership in January of 2010 to help better integrate network assets with video delivery.

The moves by Polycom now place the company into more direct competition with Cisco, which has been very active in the space in recent years. Cisco acquired telepresence vendor Tandberg in 2010 for $3.3 billion. Cisco doesn’t appear to be all that worried about the new competitive forces that are aligned against them.

“In just under five years, Cisco has gone from zero to 47 percent telepresence marketshare while HP has failed to build any credible presence in collaboration,” David Hsieh, vice president, Telepresence Marketing, Cisco said in an statement sent to InternetNews.com. “Regardless of the vendor, innovation and a commitment to customers are critical for success in this rapidly growing collaboration space and Cisco’s strategy to offer customers one of the largest portfolios of interoperable telepresence solutions for their unique needs is paying off.”

In addition to the acquisition, Polycom is also expanding its strategic relationship with Microsoft. Microsoft has also been active in the VoIP space with its recent acquisition of Skype for $8.5 billion.

“With the acquisition of Skype there have been some concerns over what that means for the Polycom relationship and from our perspective our relationship and partnership is as strong as ever,” Andy Miller, President and CEO of Polycom said during the webcast. “What we do best is enterprise collaboration and unified collaboration and we think its great that Skype is joining Microsoft and that won’t hamper or even challenge our relationship.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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