Microsoft, HP Debut Appliances Targeting BI, Messaging Apps

Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard unveiled a line of IT appliances Wednesday that combine Microsoft software and HP servers for business intelligence, data warehousing and messaging applications.

The appliances, built around Microsoft's SQL Server database and Exchange communications software, are designed to reduce implementation time and simplify the delivery and management of critical business applications, said Doug Small, global alliances marketing director, enterprise servers, storage and networking, HP enterprise business, in an interview.

"With these appliances we're going to be addressing a whole range of customer needs," added Fausto Ibarra, senior director, Microsoft business intelligence, in the interview.

The new appliances are part of a three-year deal announced by the two companies in January 2010 to invest $250 million to develop complete "infrastructure-to-application" systems. That agreement expands the already extensive HP/Microsoft Frontline Partnership under which the companies combine their technologies and jointly take them to market through channel partners who participate in the HP/Microsoft Frontline Partner Program.

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The appliances are built on HP servers, including the Proliant line, HP virtualization and system management tools, and add in HP support services.

In November the companies unveiled the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance, a system for large-scale data warehouse applications with hundreds of terabytes of data and a price tag starting at "less than $2 million," according to the companies.

Next: Data Warehousing, Data Consolidation And Messaging Applications

The four new systems add to the appliance offerings. The HP Business Decision Appliance, targeting business intelligence applications, incorporates Microsoft's SQL Server, SharePoint collaboration application and PowerPivot add-in for Microsoft Excel. Available now, the HP Business Decision Appliance has a starting price under $28,000 with SQL Server 2008 R2 and SharePoint 2010 licensed separately.

The new HP Business Data Warehouse Appliance, slated for availability in June, complements the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance by targeting data storage and management applications within small and midsize businesses.

The HP E5000 Messaging System for Microsoft Exchange Server appliance can manage up to 3,000 mailboxes and targets businesses and organizations expected to upgrade to Exchange 2010 over the next few years, Small said. That appliance, due to ship in March, will have a starting price of $36,000 with Exchange licensed separately.

And the HP Database Consolidation Appliance, incorporating SQL Server and Microsoft's Hyper-V Cloud software, is designed to help businesses consolidate hundreds of database applications into a private cloud, Ibarra said. That system will be available sometime in the second half of 2011.

While HP will sell the appliances directly, HP and Microsoft are counting on their Frontline partners to account for a significant share of the appliance sales, although Small couldn't provide channel sale projections.