Cisco, Microsoft Declare Truce Over VoIP

Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Microsoft (MSFT) had been increasingly butting heads lately over “enterprise communication” infrastructure, with each company hawking their own version of VoIP products, from directory servers to clients to handsets. This was making the folks who actually spend money — large corporations — mad.

Their bickering, which even managed to rope in the likes of Nortel (NT) and Avaya, was getting out of hand. We had predicted a no-holds barred battle, but instead it turned out to be little more than a small skirmish that’s ending with a whimper. Today John Chambers and Steve Ballmer, chief executives of Cisco Systems and Microsoft respectively, got on stage and declared a truce. (Watch webcast at Microsoft’s site and Cisco‘s Web site.)

“But to use the red team-blue team political analogy, most companies want moderates these days,” Mr. Chambers said. “And I say that as a Republican.” (via NYTimes’ Bits.)

The two companies are going to make their products interoperate, in turn giving large corporations the chance to pick and choose what they want to buy.

“They’re saying, ‘Give me the choice. Don’t give me the all-or-nothing choice,'” Ballmer said of the customers, adding that he was seeking “respectful competition” with Cisco. (Reuters)

I guess both Cisco and Microsoft were feeling a little bit of heat from some of the more open-source options that have started to come to the market. Asterisk-based solutions, in particular, have been gaining in popularity as office phone systems.