Microsoft and HP team on UC initiative

Microsoft LyncUsing Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto this week as a backdrop, HP launched a new initiative with Microsoft for its channel partners to deliver a complete HP Unified Communication & Collaboration (UC&C) solution with Microsoft Lync 2010 to SMBs.

“Our goal was to develop a solution that made it simple, quick and easy as possible for a channel partner to go out and sell this solution, implement it and create success from it,” said TerryAnn Fitzgerald, SMB Solutions Marketing Manager, Networking with HP.

The UC&C initiative was born out of a previous Microsoft and HP relationship that started in 2009. This initial partnership was all about developing enterprise solutions around Lync’s predecessor, Microsoft Office Communication Server that focused on 2500 or more employees.

“While we were working on that, our channel partners came to us and said they would really like to offer the Lync solution to the mid-market,” said Fitzgerald. “[This initiative] is our way of coming at it proactively saying we are seeing successes with the mid market so lets create a program, create an opportunity that is scalable to all of our channel partners.”

The UC&C initiative includes tested and validated reference architectures for 250-2500 employees. It also provides Lync-optimized PCs and phones as well as the HP Converged Infrastructure that includes networking, storage, server and management.

Microsoft Lync offers communication tools such as telecommunications, email and video conferencing to customers.

“HP UC&C Solutions for Microsoft Lync enable remote employees to securely connect with the right resources, leverage familiar tools and collaborate to rapidly respond to new opportunities,” said Alan MacLeod, Director, Microsoft Alliance, UC&C Initiative with HP.

In addition, the initiative provides sales and technical training through webinars and in-person formats. As well, HP and Microsoft have provided its partners with worldwide demand generation campaigns that can be customized and all the tools that they need to drive demand such as white papers.

“Once they have the customer’s attention, then we give them tools like marketing collaterals, customer presentations, solution briefs, event-in-a-box and introduction letters; anything like that where they can follow-up with the customer to close the sale as quickly as possible,” Fitzgerald added.

As well, partners in the initiative will be able to participate in the Microsoft Solution Incentives Program (SIP) and get access to training assistance that help partners access Microsoft Channel Incentives program for Lync.

Fitzgerald believes that the main benefit of the UC&C initiative with Microsoft for HP partners is that it simplifies deployment and reduces the risk because HP has tested and validated the architectures.

“We are not leaving them out there to figure it out on their own. We have done the hard work for them, we know that it works so they can go in with a high level of confidence to the customer site and deploy this solution,” she added.

The other benefit is this initiative has made it easier for partners to drive demand and close sales because of the tools provided like the aforementioned event-in-a-box.

For Microsoft and HP partners, it gives both companies a way to have new discussions with new customers.

“If you are an HP Networking channel partner, you can now talk UC&C and if you are a Lync partner, you can now offer a complete proven tested solution,” she noted.

MacLeod added that Microsoft partners will get increased revenue opportunities around network upgrades and the associated services as well as a proven, complete solution to compete with the other UC vendors.

“The real time capabilities of Lync – voice and video – put increased demands on customer’s networks. Ensuring the network can provide the right quality of experience is critical to the success of any UC deployment,” he explained. “In the future, HP and Microsoft will continue our collaboration on unified communications solutions that matter to customers and channel partners.”