Microsoft-HP integration deal yields four new appliances

Offerings run optimized versions of SQL Server and Microsoft software to deliver BI, data warehousing, and messaging

Almost exactly one year has passed since HP and Microsoft trumpeted a three-year, $250 million "infrastructure-to-apps" partnership through which the companies are combining forces to deliver an array of integrated IT products to the business world.

The companies today announced the latest fruits of their collective efforts, signaling that their partnership is not simply hype. To use the HP-Microsoft vernacular, they have unveiled "four converged application appliances that fuse applications, infrastructure, and productivity tools into a single system."

Extracting meaning from the marketing-speak, we seem to have four systems composed of HP-branded server and storage hardware that are primed to run preloaded Microsoft-spawned code.

Specifically, the four offerings are the HP Business Decision Appliance, a system that performs business intelligence duties running on SQL Server 2008 R2 and SharePoint 2010; the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance which runs SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse software; the HP E5000 Messaging system running Microsoft Exchange Server 2010; and the HP Business Data Warehouse Appliance, which also runs SQL Server 2008 R2 along with Microsoft's Hyper-V Cloud. Absent from the announcement anything relating to Azure, Microsoft's HP-backed cloud platform.

Among Microsoft and HP's selling points for these products is rapid deployment. Because all the configuration and optimization is done at the factory, so to speak, an organization can theoretically have a shiny new data-warehousing or business intelligence system up and running in a matter of hours instead of months.

Notably, this isn't the first appliance HP and Microsoft have rolled out since signing their agreement; in November, they announced the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance, which is built on HP ProLiant DL360 and DL380 G7 servers, as well as HP StorageWorks MSA P2000 storage.

The newly announced HP Business Data Warehouse Appliance is, in fact, a complement to the aforementioned system, geared toward small and midsize businesses, delivering "enterprise-class" data-warehousing capabilities and administrator-free operation. The Business Data Warehouse Appliance is due out in June; pricing was not disclosed.

The HP Business Decision Appliance, according to HP and Microsoft, is designed to put the power of BI into the hands of non-tech-savvy business users. It enables users to create and share their own data analysis with Microsoft's PowerPivot add-in for Excel and to collaborate with SharePoint. IT, meanwhile, can centrally audit, monitor, and manage user-created BI solutions from a single dashboard. Pricing for the HP Business Decision Appliance is around $28,000; licenses for SQL Server 2008 R2 and SharePoint 2010 are separate.

HP and Microsoft's data-wrangling ambitions don't end there. The HP Database Consolidation Appliance, due out in the second half of this year, draws on SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft Hyper-V Cloud to consolidate hundreds of databases into a single virtual environment. The end result is a private cloud database that delivers scalability and dynamic elasticity, according to the companies. Pricing was not disclosed.

Finally, the HP E5000 Messaging system is, according to the companies, the industry's first self-contained, preconfigured platform for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. Designed to scale to meet company's needs, the system offers centralized archiving, along with built-in features including the HP Quick Deployment tool, which validates configuration and Active Director permissions to speed implementation.

The companies have baked in features that supporting best practices, such as fully redundant hardware and Database Availability Groups, a feature in Exchange 2010 that continuously replicated data.

The HP E5000 Messaging System is due out in March and will start at $36,000, excluding the licensing for Exchange Server 2010.

Follow Ted Samson on Twitter at tsamson_iw.

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