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HP & Microsoft Set Off in Search of the Elusive Push-Button Cloud

Ballmer: ‘Microsoft and HP are betting on each other so our customers don’t have to gamble on IT’

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Claiming to have struck the tightest, most deeply integrated relationship ever seen in the industry - apparently the next best thing to one of them acquiring the other - HP and Microsoft said Wednesday that together they're going to pour $250 million over the next three years into a new cloud computing venture.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, talking up their intimacy, made it sound like what comes out the other end will make cloud computing as simple as turning on a light switch. Simplicity is their watchword.

Well this part's simple. HP apparently gets a contract to supply the boxes for Windows Azure data centers.


Anyway, the soup-to-nuts project encompasses hardware, software and service, joint marketing and all of the companies' 32,000 resellers on which they intend to lavish 10 times their usual sales and marketing incentives.

They say they're going to create the "most integrated technology stack" around, everything "from infrastructure to applications," involving virtualization, management, business applications and Azure. A bigger deal one is evidently supposed to think than the VMware-Cisco-EMC partnership. And everything is supposed to be terribly, terribly self-managed and automated.

The pair is supposed to collaborate on an "engineering roadmap for data management machines; converged, pre-packaged application solutions; comprehensive virtualization offerings; and integrated management tools," promising customers "optimized performance with push-button simplicity at the lowest possible total cost of ownership."

Here's the plan. Microsoft becomes HP's preferred virtualization partner. There will be "Smart Bundles" for SMBs consisting of HP's servers, storage and networking along with Microsoft's Hyper-V and HP's Insight management software. HP will resell Microsoft's System Center as part of its widgetry and eventually integrate it with Insight and its business technology optimization solution to manage heterogeneous environments.

Reminiscent of Oracle's intentions with Sun - and replacing the short-lived Oracle-HP Exadata arrangement - there will be pre-packaged, pre-configured data management and e-mail "appliances" based on SQL Server and Exchange that target data warehousing, BI, OLTP and messaging.

Actually the database thingie already exists. The warehouse widgetry will use Microsoft SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse software inherited from its acquisition of DatAllegro.

Note that Ballmer and HP CEO Mark Hurd said they've been working on the deal since last April, which was when Oracle said it would buy Sun.

HP sells Azure and Azure services. Joint solutions, built on industry standards and managed through a common framework, will be designed so customers can integrate private or public clouds. HP will kick in financing arm and both companies their 11,000-strong professional services for on-premises, outsourced and cloud arrangements.

The marriage is supposed to "transform the way large enterprises deliver services to their customers, and help smaller organizations adopt IT to grow their business." According to Ballmer, "Microsoft and HP are betting on each other so our customers don't have to gamble on IT."

According to Merrill Lynch by next year the cloud could claim $95 billion in corporate spend, ~60% of the total, with consumer-style apps like Google's producing the difference.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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