HP, Microsoft Promise Windows Azure Cloud Platform By Year's End

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Six months into Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard’s ambitious $250-million collaboration on cloud computing, the two tech titans said they’ll have a limited production platform appliance that ties together Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud services and HP’s Converged Infrastructure data center architecture -- within another six months.

“The Windows Azure platform appliance will provide customers with a turn-key solution to address new business scenarios that require rapid scaling of applications and deliver services that are predictable, immediately consumable and more cost effective,” said Bob Muglia, president of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, in a statement Monday.

Microsoft lifted the curtain on the proposed Windows Azure platform appliance on the first day of the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C. Besides HP, Microsoft’s hardware partners in the initial stage of the technology project include Dell and Fujitsu.

But given the quarter of a billion dollars set aside for collaborating on the cloud with HP, Microsoft likely has the most skin in this particular game with the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computing giant, and vice-versa.

In a joint statement Monday, the two companies billed the proposed platform appliance as a means for large enterprise customers “to confidently and rapidly adopt cloud-based applications.”

HP will run its end of the project through its Enterprise Services business unit, which will offer large enterprise customers an option of HP-hosted data center services that manage the future Windows Azure platform appliance or an on-premises solution that customers can manage for themselves through HP Converged Infrastructure tools.

“HP is the only technology company that can combine the Windows Azure platform with the industry’s best people, processes and Converged Infrastructure technology to remove the complexity of migrating applications to the cloud,” said Sean Kenny, senior vice president of worldwide applications and business process outsourcing for HP Enterprise Services.

The platform’s tie-in to the Converged Infrastructure architecture for an end-to-end HP-outfitted data center includes optimization for the HP networking fabric and its ProLiant industry standard servers.

The Windows Azure platform will also be deployed in HP Performance-Optimized Data Centers, or PODs, which are a line of full-size and half-size shipping containers that function as full-fledged data centers that can be used for rapid expansion without attendant brick-and-mortar construction costs.

Finally, HP Enterprise Services will offer application modernization, migration and integration for Windows applications via the Windows Azure platform as enterprise customers build out private clouds, the company said.

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