It's not every day that you see two heavyweights like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer and Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) CEO John Chambers on one stage, preaching the same message. But that's what happened Monday, as the winsome twosome filled us in on how the software and networking leaders work together to fill customer needs.

Ballmer said that the idea was to highlight the cooperative spirit for once, shifting the focus away from the competition between the companies. And Chambers elaborated:

Nearly every customer that we serve has a combination of Cisco and Microsoft technologies as critical components of their information infrastructure. Because the intersection of networking and software is so essential to business success today, we recognize how important it is that we work together to make sure that our products interoperate as seamlessly and as smoothly as possible.

Cisco and Microsoft have been working together for the past decade or so, pouring more than $40 million combined into their joint efforts in areas like network security, IPTV delivery, unified communications, and systems management. It's a standards-setting process, ensuring that Microsoft products will play nicely with Cisco networks and vice versa.

This "coopetition" is necessary to keep customers of both companies happy, and it's an important contact point between two of the tech industry's biggest names. I've mentioned before how I think that community involvement drives Cisco's success, always mentioning Microsoft in the same breath. While this particular presentation didn't include missives from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) or IBM (NYSE:IBM), I'm sure that all four of these companies keep in touch.

It's partly a market necessity and partly a conscious choice, made to keep each tech giant's ear to the proverbial ground. These more-or-less formal alliances can be seen as an extension of the traditional standards bodies -- IEEE, W3C, ISO, ANSI, or what have you -- where some of the more ambitious parties pair up over power lunches or shared lab spaces to hammer out a few quick details.

So I like to see these sorts of outreach efforts, whether I own any of the stocks involved or not. If I do, it's great to see my companies working hard to stay at the top of the heap and make me some more money, and if not, these things are good for the industry as a whole. Just because Cisco and Microsoft came up with a hardware-software standard together doesn't mean that Google or Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) or eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) can't pick it up and use it to their own ends.

Everybody wins. More of this, please.

Further Foolishness:

eBay and Yahoo! are two of the stocks on our Motley Fool Stock Advisor scorecard, and Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund is a Google shareholder but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure will make your day, every day.