NEW YORK – Cisco Systems Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. said on Monday they will combine technical support services for mutual customers, highlighting increasingly close ties between the network equipment maker and computer services company.
Customers of both companies in 46 countries, including Australia, China, Germany and the United Kingdom, will now have common IT support centers that will respond to queries and maintenance requests for both Cisco and IBM products.
The two companies already have a similar agreement in the United States.
“Customers won’t have to choose between going to IBM or Cisco for IT support,” said Robert Kritzer, vice president of IBM Global Services.
San Jose, California-based Cisco has expanded its focus from routers and switches to a broader range of equipment and software in recent years, and has stepped up its alliance with IBM.
One area of collaboration has been in making their products, ranging from software to network equipment and other hardware, work together.
Cisco said last week it was working with IBM to further develop its Unified Communications system, a package of software and equipment that link desktop computers, office phones and mobile devices.
Cisco has also been boosting its partnership with Microsoft Corp. to develop the Unified Communications system, despite growing rivalry between the two companies in areas such as Internet security and Web-based telephone technology, known as voice-over-Internet protocol (VOIP).