Proprietary seems to be the watchword for many of the comms and networking world's biggest names in recent weeks. A clutch of top vendors have ramped up moves to muscle their way into as many parts of the stack as possible and dominate channel mindshare.
HP and Cisco have, predictably, led the way. The latter set the tone last month by finally outlining the ins and outs of its switch to architecture-based specialisations, rather than ones centred on individual technologies.
"The whole is greater than the sum of the parts," said Yves Mertens, director of sales, systems engineering for Cisco Europe.
Partners claimed the reshuffle would open the doors for many more infrastructure VARs to get involved with Cisco's forthcoming UCS server platform.
Not to be outdone, HP recently embarked on a quest to get more of its ESSN partners selling the entire portfolio. VARs will be more generously rewarded for diversifying, with a focus on pushing hardware players towards networking.
Klaus Rumsauer, EMEA ESSN director, talked up HP's top-to-bottom stack, arguing that, in the cloud services world, it gives partners and end users one throat to choke, unlike Cisco and IBM.
"If we are delivering everything, it is very simple for resellers. They say: ‘It is an HP problem'," he told CRN. "You can never do this if you have an alliance like Cisco and NetApp."
Brocade is also making big plans around the convergence of the stack. Incoming UK boss Marcus Jewell recently claimed he wanted to forge technically specialised routes to market based around server and application convergence.
Meanwhile, Juniper Networks has honed in on Brocade's and Cisco's core markets with the launch of its QFabric datacentre architecture this spring.
"Datacentre compute and storage technologies have advanced over the past decade and the legacy approach to networking has not kept pace," said chief executive Kevin Johnson.
After digesting the Nortel buyout, Avaya is having a comparatively quiet 2011. It continues to push its collaboration message, boosted by the recent news that its Flare platform will be coming to mobile devices.
Microsoft's visibility in the comms world continues to increase with the recent launch of Lync Server 2010, the successor to OCS. The offering will be brought together with Redmond's other server products on the hotly anticipated Office 365.
And the software titan could yet sink its claws even further into the market, having recently been linked to a possible buyout of Alcatel-Lucent's PBX business.
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