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Another Take on Cisco/Tandberg: It's Good for Polycom

In the wake of the news that Cisco is acquiring Tandberg comes the rumor that Avaya is looking to purchase Polycom. Which, depending on the terms of any such deal, could be good for the conferencing vendor. But even if it doesn't get acquired, there's good reason to see opportunity in the Cisco/Tandberg merger for Polycom. Here's why:* Polycom is now the leading independent videoconferencing vendor. Regardless of how Cisco handles the acquisition (and that truly remains to be seen-the array of options ranges from WebEx, which has managed to maintain an identity all its own, to a slew of smaller players that have pretty much been gobbled up by the big guy), Tandberg will be hard-pressed to avoid the Cisco association.

* While the deal may be good for companies that use both Cisco and Tandberg for communications, anyone looking for "best-of-breed" hardware and software could be forgiven for not automatically buying an end-to-end solution from Cisco-even if the Tandberg technology is as good as it gets. Perception counts in this business, and no one wants a suite of products foisted upon them. For non-Cisco customers, this is bolstered by the fact that...

* It has to be; why would anyone want to sell its main competitor's products if it can avoid doing so? Brian Riggs tweeted about what the acquisition means for the recent news of an expanded resale agreement between Siemens and Tandberg, for example. It's hard to believe that Siemens is excited about that news now, although we can expect some hemming and hawing from the parties in the short run. Tandberg also offers historically good integration with Microsoft-another potential pitfall now that the products are part of the Cisco brand.

* Polycom almost certainly will be more nimble than Tandberg. When you get gobbled up by a behemoth, even the smallest decisions take longer to make, product development gets hung up by more layers of management, and everyone must weigh in on change, lest it conflict with the broader corporate message and portfolio.

None of this discounts what Cisco gets in the deal, of course: an end-to-end videoconferencing solution that is designed to support open, industry-wide standards; robust network management tools that are required for a successful videoconferencing deployment across the enterprise; a boost to top-line growth; bundling opportunities; and expansion into the EU, where Tandberg is traditionally strong. And, too, no one should ignore the marketing muscle Cisco will deliver; Polycom is no longer going up against a relatively even competitor. Still, with market change comes opportunity. Just look at the reaction to Avaya's acquisition of Nortel...

Editor's note: An additional take from Frost & Sullivan can be found here.