HP and Microsoft team on new converged app appliances

HP Business Decision Appliance

The new joint HP/Microsoft Business Decision Appliance

The “Frontline Partnership” between Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard has resulted in a series of new appliances pre-integrating Microsoft software on HP hardware, and brought to market through the companies’ joint channel partners.

The new products include three new appliances in the business decision and data warehousing space, as well as an offering in the enterprise messaging space, all of which the companies say will reduce complexity of rolling out solutions while also increasing availability.

It’s an important market opportunity that’s hard to break into for many channel partners, according to Randy Milthorpe, business development manager for ProLiant and BladeSystems solutions at HP Canada.

“These appliances are a great enabler for channel partners to get into the cloud-mapping business and create the private cloud in their customer base,” Milthorpe said. “For businesses to grow, they have to have ready access to the most important information in their business, and these solutions will help them compete on that basis.”

The three database-based solutions promise to address the challenges of “simplifying customers’ access to the important information in the massive amounts of data they’re producing,” Milthorpe said.

The Business Decision Appliance is targeted at medium-sized businesses and up, scaling well by increasing the number of ProLiant servers on which it runs. Along with a modular design, Milthorpe said the companies have worked together to increase throughput tenfold and to boost query response time 100x over more traditional approaches. It’s a $28,000 (U.S.) product to start.

Its bigger sibling, the Business Decision Warehouse, is a $2 million (U.S.) date warehousing solution for medium-sized and larger businesses, and one that the company is targeting at those who’ve done a lot of homework and need data warehousing, but have been frustrated by the time and expense of doing so.

It’s joined on the data warehousing side by the Business Data Warehouse Appliance, a pared down version of the Enterprise Data Warehouse appliance announced last year.

“Getting to effective data warehousing solutions is often a frustrating path for customers,” Milthorpe said. “The investments we’ve made over this past year have really brought forward an additional layer of simplifications that customers are looking for in business intelligence and data warehousing. This is about getting to business in a matter of hours or days instead of months or sometimes years.”

All three of the business information solutions open up an opportunity that hasn’t been a channel hotspot. Indeed, for many partners, Milthorpe suggested the appliances might be an accessible entry to new opportunities.

“These have been challenging topics for many channel partners, and these appliances give them ready access to markets they may not have been able to approach in the past,” he said.

On the messaging front, the E5000 Messaging System brings together Exchange 2010 and HP’s ProLiant servers in a package designed to roll out deployments of 500 mailboxes or more, and allows partners to do so much more quickly than a traditional deployment, Milthorpe said.

“The E5000 makes the migration to Microsoft Exchange 2010 much easier, a matter of hours rather than weeks,” he said.

The joint solution also adds high availability enhancements to Exchange, designed to help ensure mission-critical e-mail stays online. “Having that additional level of availability should make customers feel much safer about [migrating to Exchange 2010,]” Milthorpe said.

The E5000 is slated to ship March 1, with a starting price point of $36,000 (U.S.)

All four of the appliances are being brought to market by both players, and Milthorpe said HP Canada will be actively education solution providers about the new products, including giving the appliances prominent billing on the company’s upcoming channel roadshow. HP will also be using its financial services division to support the offerings, “giving partners an opportunity to present to more customers and create a broader solution for customers to acquire the appliances,” Milthorpe said.