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SBC, Hewlett-Packard form alliance

Nonexclusive deal will let them jointly develop and market IT and telecommunications products and services.

SBC Communications and Hewlett-Packard have entered an alliance to jointly develop and market products and services, the companies said Wednesday.

The nonexclusive deal marks SBC's first alliance with a hardware maker and HP's first North American alliance with a telecom company.

As competition for IT spending dollars remains fierce, companies from different industries that share the same corporate-customer base are increasingly looking for ways to offer one-stop shopping.

"Up to this point, the onus was on the customer to make sure they had the right vendors in place to make things work with maximum efficiency," said Jason Hillery, an SBC spokesman. "But with our alliance, we're saying we'll take care of making sure your IT and communications (work) with maximum efficiency."

Under the deal, the companies will begin to jointly market their services and products during the first quarter. Corporate customers will largely receive a single point of contact and a single bill, depending on whether an existing sales relationship exists with either company, Hillery said.

During the first half of the year, the companies will also begin to develop joint offerings. For example, voice over Internet Protocol and related hardware and software may be sold as one package, or the desktop and the network may be bundled together for a company starting a new branch office, Hillery said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The alliance will focus on customers facing such challenges as IT and telecom convergence technologies, mobile data services, wide area networks, network security and integrating branch offices with operations.

"As voice and data converge, enterprises face increasing complexity and opportunity. HP and SBC companies, working together, can help enterprises embrace change," M.L. Krakauer, general manager of HP's Technology Services in the Americas unit, said in a statement.

Last May, HP and BT Group, a leading telecommunications provider in the United Kingdom, entered an alliance expected to generate $1.5 billion in revenue. The seven-year agreement calls for the companies to first provide outsourcing services for each other, followed by integrated service offerings. BT will manage HP's corporate voice and data network and call centers in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, while HP will manage its partner's IT infrastructure, ranging from desktop support for BT's 100,000 workers in the United Kingdom to procuring and maintaining its hardware.