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Why Microsoft and HP need each other

Two companies partner to push Azure platform

HP is developing with Microsoft a Windows Azure platform appliance to combine hardware, software, services and a sourcing solution for enterprise customers to get into cloud computing.

The announcement was made today at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partnership Conference (WPC) 2010 going on in Washington, D.C., at which most of the discussion will be about Microsoft’s cloud strategy. As the world's largest IT company (based on annual sales of $120 billion), Microsoft needs a strong partner in HP to make its cloud strategy work.

From the way the project is described, the Microsoft-HP Azure platform will be used to develop private clouds at enterprise sites, and will be integrated through HP’s “Converged Infrastructure” approach to data center development and operation.

Today’s announcement is part of a three-year, $250 million partnership between the two companies to simplify complex IT environments, in large part through adoption of cloud computing. With Windows Azure, the cloud version of Windows Server OS for data centers, the two companies say their customers will be able to scale applications, deliver new online services and migrate Windows and .NET-based applications to the cloud.

The HP-Microsoft Azure appliance will also give HP a chance to sell its technology for networking, its ProLiant line of scalable servers and its Performance-Optimized Datacenters (PODs), which is HP’s version of a data center in a truck that the customer just parks next to their building and plugs in. HP also gave a plug for its own data hosting services.

The announcement at the WPC is part of Microsoft’s continuing messaging effort to let the world know it’s “all in” with cloud computing. Redmond has acknowledged some enterprise customers are still sitting on the sidelines.

Industry research presented at the conference, though, shows cloud momentum building. Research firm IDC (a sister company to IDG Enterprises, publisher of Network World) reports that 19 percent of the new growth in software spending in 2013-2014 will be driven by cloud computing, while cloud application spending will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 26 percent, which is five times greater than all application spending.

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