HP, Microsoft Forge Four-Year Cloud Pact

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HP Enterprise Services and Microsoft have joined forces to offer global public and private cloud services, a four-year deal that will offer packaged bundles of HP and Microsoft gear and through which HP will resell Microsoft Office 365.

The two tech titans said Thursday that the goal of the pact is to bring customers into the cloud and help them make the shift from capital IT expenses to operational expenses.

For private cloud deployments, HP will offer Microsoft cloud productivity applications like Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Microsoft Lync Server 2010 as a service from HP data centers as part of its HP Enterprise Cloud Services-Messaging, HP Enterprise Cloud Services-Collaboration and HP Enterprise Cloud Services-Real-Time Collaboration.

For public cloud, Microsoft will offer Microsoft Office 365 and other collaboration and productivity tools.

And on the hybrid cloud side, HP will resell Microsoft Office 365 with HP Enterprise Cloud Services-Messaging, HP Enterprise Cloud Services-Collaboration and HP Enterprise Cloud Services-Real-Time Collaboration.

HP and Microsoft will also share engineering resources to collaborate to deploy, support and enhance the joint solutions. Initial availability is expected this month in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

"This alliance with HP not only broadens Microsoft's geographic reach, it gives customers maximum flexibility to choose a cloud computing solution that meets their organization's specialized messaging and collaboration needs," said Mark Hill, vice president, Enterprise Partner Group, Microsoft, in a statement.

The HP partnership comes on the heels of Microsoft offering a bit of insight into Office 365's momentum since it launched in June. While Microsoft hasn't disclosed actual sales numbers, the company said that 90 percent of Office 365 customers are small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

The two companies have teamed up in the past for cloud computing initiatives. Roughly a year-and-a-half ago HP was revealed as one of the inaugural partners for Microsoft's Windows Azure platform appliance, a private cloud box with public cloud attributes. The agreement would have Windows Azure platforms hosted in HP data centers. To date, that partnership hasn't come to fruition.

The most recent cloud pairing is also two years after the two tech big dogs teamed up for a cloud computing stack. In January 2010, HP and Microsoft launched a new technology stack collaboration for the data center into which the two companies vowed to pump $250 million over three-years with cloud computing as a major focus. The framework integrated Microsoft gear like Exchange Server, SQL Server and Hyper-V with HP's server, storage and networking hardware.

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