Two industry giants last week made an alliance worth billions of pounds. Hewlett-Packard (HP) and BT signed an ongoing seven-year pact that has already seen the two sign a $1.5bn managed services agreement.
HP will manage all of BT's desktops, and BT will manage HP's call centres. The firms say it's for mutual benefit and they may look at other opportunities.
But blow away the marketing smokescreen and look past the back-slapping, and what does the deal really mean?
On the surface it is a real validation of the voice and data market in the UK. Despite every analyst from London to Taiwan predicting extraordinary growth for the convergence market, it is real business and real business deals that actually matter and create growth.
HP has the top share of the EMEA notebook market, according to Context, and along with BT, the UK's largest telecoms provider, it is obviously hoping to milk the cash cow that is the convergence between voice and data.
But what took the two firms so long? While these giants were sitting indoors and discussing a deal, the channel has been out to the shed and started the milking.
The UK channel has been watching this growing segment for years, but even the most enthusiastic gamblers among us wouldn't have put money on which, between voice and data firms, would become the dominant force.
So HP and BT have put their money on an each-way bet - and partnered to ensure that at least some profits should be had whatever the outcome.
Both firms have already tapped into this market, but they are clearly willing to up the ante. The services stakes are high and both firms are risking other partnerships, including deals with major channel players such as Computacenter.
But as always when there are high risks, there are also hefty gains to be had. A closer integration of HP and BT's services businesses could help HP in its bid to rival IBM Global Services and EDS.
And one analyst has even suggested that this move could pave the way for HP to acquire BT's Global Services business. Watch this space.
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