HP, it seems, want to be friends with just about everyone in the unified communications business, but appears not to want to get its hands dirty with products of its own. In case you missed them here's a summary of some of the agreements HP has entered into over the past two and a bit years:

It's 2009 and HP and Microsoft announced they were establishing a four-year alliance to "deliver an end-to-end unified communications and collaboration solution". At the time that included getting HP's Halo telepresence solution to work with Microsoft's UC platform, Office Communications Server, now known as Lync.

It's 2010 and HP announces a 10 year technology alliance with Alcatel-Lucent aimed at getting enterprise customers to migrate from legacy PBX to IP based UC solutions.

Now it's 2011 and at the end of June HP announced a three year collaboration agreement with Avaya to sell "elements" of its UC and contact centre products.

But that's not all. A few days later, HP announced it was selling off its Visual Collaboration business, including Halo telepresence products and services, to Avaya rival Polycom. Moreover it announced yet another "strategic relationship", to (surprise, surprise) market Polycom products, including those it had just sold off, in the IT equivalent of a sale and leaseback deal.

And lastly this week a release came out stating that HP was announcing "new solutions and services that advance the way clients use Unified Communications (UC)". Marketing speak to say it can offer all manner of solutions and services, thanks to agreements with just about everyone in the UC industry. Apart, that is, from Cisco which no longer wants to play the HP game.

All very equitable, but somewhat confusing for customers. Should they buy Microsoft or go to HP to get Lync Server? Should they talk to Alcatel-Lucent or Avaya directly or get HP involved? And is it Polycom or HP that sells Halo now?

                                            Who knows?

This article is written by Alan Stevens and sponsored by Avaya. The opinions reflected in this piece are solely those of Alan Stevens and may not reflect those of Avaya management