image credit: Cliff Dwelling
The other day Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft announced the formation of a strategic alliance to go against IBM, Oracle, and others in the data center space. The alliance will specifically focus on helping businesses efficiently setup and operate their back-room engine.
This arrangement – an estimated $250 million investment – is sure to help the partners fend off the full integration claims of their rivals, but what can we learn, and more importantly apply, from the venture?
The last two years has changed the relative importance of collaborative agreements, whether they be vast or local in nature. Markets have globalized, product life cycles have collapsed, and social networking and communications in general have emerged as a powerful equalization force. All of the above provide unprecedented opportunity, they also usher in new challenges.
Going forward no one can rely on what brought them success in the past. The key to the next decade and beyond in one's speed of adoption. It is imperative that one poses flexible capabilities, a desire to innovate, and a willingness to preemptively retire a functioning model.
Clearly the HP/Microsoft deal hopes to score on the adaption, flexibility, and innovation front. But, can we checkoff the structural attributes that compose a solid alliance? Regardless of the title – collaborative agreements, strategic partnerships, or strategic alliances – they all must meet the following four characteristics:
A common goal: HP and Microsoft want to cut the cost of setting up and running a data center by selling a fully integrated turnkey solution. A solution that utilizes all the advanced features of both the software and hardware. Thus they have a common goal, expand their foothold into the data center market.
Participants remain independent: It is clear that HP isn't getting any Windows 7 revenue nor is Microsoft capturing printer sales.
Benefits and control is shared: Each will be better positioned against a rival – HP versus IBM and Microsoft versus EMC.
Ongoing contributions: This doesn't refer to money but technology, products, and other strategic insights. This venture will tightly couple software and hardware, a fingerprint of a deepening integration that can only work with an open line of communication.
This alliance framework can work for anyone. So wether you are pursuing a 'store-within-a-store' concept or a more traditional symbiotic relationship make sure you can check off each of the above.