HP, Microsoft debut four new business appliances

As part of its multi-million dollar partnership, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard are rolling out a handful of new business appliance hardware.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
3 min read
Microsoft, HP logos

Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft tonight are taking the covers off four pieces of HP-made hardware that will ship with software, services, and support from both companies as part of their Frontline partnership.

The goal, the companies say, is to reduce the amount of time it takes to deploy new appliances by bundling together pre-configured hardware and software. The hardware has also been designed to cover both small-medium businesses (SMBs) as well as enterprise-size companies.

The four configurations HP and Microsoft are launching to meet that goal are: the HP Business Decision Appliance, the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance, the HP E5000 Messaging System, and the HP Business Data Warehouse Appliance.

Two of those offerings that will be available immediately are the HP Business Decision Appliance, and the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance--the latter of which was actually launched in November but now joins the three new ones as part of a singular business platform. HP's E5000 Messaging System and Business Data Warehouse Appliance will be available in March and June respectively.

Last year, Microsoft entered into a three-year, $250 million agreement with HP to partner up on hardware and software combinations for business. This covers joint research and development, joint services, as well as joint sales and marketing. This lineup represents the first major offering to come out of that particular investment.

"I think this is the most significant appliance announcement that we've ever seen in our industry," Paul Miller, the VP of solutions and strategic alliances for HP's enterprise storage and servers group, told CNET in an interview earlier today. "This is significant partnership, crossing all parts of our business from the enterprise, storage and networking organization, our services organization and our HP software organization."

As far as what makes this new set of hardware different from the other offerings, Miller said the lineup is more flexible to businesses of differing sizes:

"Typically an appliance is only enterprise. What we've done, and the significance of this announcement, is that Microsoft the world's largest supplier of software and business applications, fusing with HP--the world's largest infrastructure provider of storage, server and networking--our technologies to simplify the delivery from an IT standpoint of these appliances, and business solutions to the marketplace. And also enable business to get more productivity out of their business applications through simple tools they're able to use and that they're familiar with using on a daily basis."

Miller also said that the mix of hardware and services, which get bundled with each of the offerings, give each appliance more versatility than what's come before. "If you look at the past appliances, they've been solutions at the edge: the security filter, a router appliance, or a standard data warehouse appliance," Miller said. "What we've done is build those complete portfolio appliances that our customers can roll out and choose how they want to deploy them."

Along with the four appliances, Microsoft and HP say there will be a fifth to launch sometime later this year that takes care of database consolidation. "This appliance consolidates hundreds of databases into a single, virtual environment," the companies said in a release. Reference architecture for the appliance, which is optimized for SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft's Hyper-V Cloud will also be released for system builders that want to make their own hardware and software combinations.

As far as pricing goes, the HP Business Decision Appliance comes in at "less than" $28,000, with separate licenses needed for Microsoft's SQL Server 2008 R2 and SharePoint 2010. The HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance comes in at "less than" $2 million, also with a separate license for the Parallel Data Warehouse version of SQL Server 2008 R2. Rounding out the bunch, the HP E5000 Messaging System begins at $36,000, with a separate license to Exchange Server 2010.

All three of those products come with three years of HP support, with the data warehouse appliance adding site assessment, installation, and start up. Microsoft has not yet put a price on the business version of the Data Warehouse Appliance, though it says it will be sharing those details closer to the device's launch in June.