What a week it's been for Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) .
Just after the printing prince reporting a 28% earnings gain on 8% higher revenue in its first quarter, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO ) said it would not renew a systems integrator (SI) agreement with HP.
Systems integrators are key to big-ticket technology sales, gathering and assembling collections of disparate products into functional whole systems. Both HP and its closest peer, IBM (NYSE: IBM ) , are SIs in the sense that their professional services teams buy and deploy technology products for client engagements.
For HP, Cisco had long been a preferred supplier. No longer.
It's difficult to know exactly how this break-up will affect both companies. But we do know Cisco's intentions, thanks to a webcast hosted by Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of the networker's partner organization.
"We are taking this action to be transparent to both partners and customers -- we will compete with HP for future business," Goodwin said in the webcast and an accompanying blog post.
He also pointed to changing industry dynamics and the "evolving role of the network," which smacks of code-speak for "customers want to deal with one vendor, and we want to be it."
If that sounds familiar, it should. About a year ago, Cisco began touting what it calls a unified computing system, whereby some of its networking switches -- once intended just for moving and managing data -- were being remade with other components to act as servers, like the kind you'd buy from (surprise!) HP or Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) .
It's a vision similar to the one Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) CEO Larry Ellison trots out every time his company spends billions to add a new piece of conquered territory to its technology empire. IBM, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , and, in the cloud, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , also pitch themselves as one-stop shops.
Now, Cisco and HP have fiefdoms of their own to tend to. And in empire building, there's no room for partners.
What will Cisco's next move be? Make your voice heard using the comments box below.