Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) announced at Enterprise Connect this week U.S. availability of a cloud service around unified communications. The HP Enterprise Cloud Services - Unified Communications offering was announced alongside other unified communications and collaboration products, but this unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) offering is the only one that directly fits into HP's cloud strategy.

Others, such as the open standards-based multiservice router (MSR) that includes the HP MSR Survivable Branch Communications Module (SBM) and the HP MSR Open Architecture Platform with VMware vSphere Series, touch the cloud indirectly. Based on the announcements, it's clear UCC is at the top of HP executives' minds right now.

"The onslaught of varied communications tools, coupled with an increasingly distributed workforce, has created complex infrastructure challenges for organizations that legacy networks just can’t handle," said Bethany Mayer, senior vice president and general manager for Networking at HP, in a prepared statement. "HP's solutions enable organizations to create a highly collaborative, productive environment with unified communications, delivering the best employee experience no matter what device they use or where they work."

The UCaaS offering combines HP Enterprise Services experience in deploying Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Lync in a high-availability architecture with centralized 24/7 monitoring of communication quality and performance. As part of the announcement, HP also noted it has enhanced its HP 4120 IP phones to provide easy access to Lync and other cloud-based offerings.

HP's UCaaS offering leverages the HP Enterprise Cloud Services -- Virtual Private Cloud, HP's enterprise managed cloud, taking away the need to host UCC infrastructure on-premise. End users will be able to log in to their Lync accounts through the IP phone by entering a PIN. They'll have full access to voice mail, personal contacts and customized user profile settings.

HP is one of several vendors, both large and small, getting into the UCaaS market. Assuming partners will play a role in HP's rollout of the service, the channel should find plenty of new opportunitie—especially when the Microsoft Lync connection is taken into account. Businesses have taken a strong interest in Lync, and it has arguably one of the main drivers of UCC's growth in the cloud.