Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cisco v HP, Round 1

Washington Technology (through 1105 affiliate reporter Jeffrey Schwartz of Redmond Developer News) reports that Cisco has severed all ties with HP.

As the WT article points, both companies have started to encroach on the other's turf with new products, or the threat of new products, so the split should not surprise anyone.

But what does it mean for the B2G market overall?

Cisco, like Microsoft, is every one's "big partner", and it has a huge influence on the B2G market.
Cisco has a well-directed B2G efforts which has been in place for several years, and they are truly pervasive in the Federal arena and throughout Washington DC. Their channel program has been consistent and well managed, which is a really big plus is a market where long-term relationships between companies are difficult to maintain. The channel program has allowed Cisco to identify and nurture many VARs and small IT companies that are now closely allied to Cisco.

HP, on the other hand, has had an inconsistent Federal program for years, sometimes favoring the channel, other times trying to go direct. During that same time, companies like CDW (and CDW-G) and GTSI have done well by and for HP in the government market.

What does this mean for HP in the federal market? Frankly, word on the street for a while has been that HP lacks a coherent and cohesive federal sales and marketing plan. There is HP presence in DC, but it lacks senior leadership. In a relationship driven market, this does not bode well for HP.

HP needs to put a senior director back in place in Washington DC and give him/her the clout to do what it takes to build a consistent B2G federal program.

In the WT article Gartner analyst Tiffani Bova said "she wouldn't be surprised to see the two companies iron out their differences eventually and come up with a more mutually acceptable pact."

Frankly I don't see that happening. Short of one company buying the other, this has as much chance as Steve Jobs showing up at Scott McNealy's birthday party.

If it becomes an all-out war, the channel players, especially smaller resellers, may be caught in the middle. These smaller channel players may have to choose between Cisco and HP.

Stay tuned!

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