HP and Microsoft Roll Out Appliances

The two companies deliver on their $250 million, three-year pact to jointly develop integrated datacenter solutions.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft have unveiled five appliances that offer Exchange and SQL Server in turnkey configurations.

The two companies' offerings range from a so-called "private cloud in a box" designed to virtualize databases to a $2 million data warehouse appliance. The latter marks the official release of the largest and most scalable version of the Microsoft database to date: SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Warehouse Edition, code-named "Project Madison."

The products are the first key deliverables from the $250-million, three-year pact HP and Microsoft inked last year to collaborate on providing integrated, highly tuned systems. RCP covered this collaboration in a March 2010 feature, "Next Move."

"We're paying off on the announcement we made a year ago," said Doug Small, HP director of infrastructure to applications business.

The new HP E5000 Messaging System for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 is the first time Redmond's core e-mail platform is available in a turnkey configuration. The companies say the system can be deployed in a matter of hours. Small emphasizes the system's design around high availability. "The solutions have high availability directly built into [them] to ensure secure communication across the whole messaging system," he explained.

A system designed for midsize businesses will support 500 mailboxes, each at 1GB, with an enterprise version designed to accommodate 3,000 mailboxes at 2GB a piece. Organizations can cascade multiple appliances to scale them out, Small said. The Exchange appliances, due to ship this month, will start at $35,000 each for the hardware; software licensing is separate.

The other appliances center on SQL Server: they include the HP Business Decision Appliance, the Business Data Warehouse Appliance and the HP Database Consolidation Appliance.

The Business Decision Appliance is aimed at rapid provisioning of business intelligence (BI) implementations, said Fausto Ibarra, senior director of BI at Microsoft. "It's designed as a self-service BI solution, with everything you need -- software and hardware -- to empower end users to analyze large amounts of data from any number of data sources," he said.

Microsoft said the appliance is optimized for running both SQL Server and SharePoint and can be installed and configured in less than one hour. It also runs the PowerPivot data analysis tool for Excel and provides a single dashboard for auditing, monitoring and managing BI solutions running on the appliance. Pricing starts at $28,000 for the hardware only. It's available now.

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Figure 1. The Hewlett-Packard Co. Business Decision Appliance with SQL Server built-in.

On the high end of the spectrum, HP today began shipping the Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance, announced back in November, which the companies say is 10 times more scalable than previous SQL Server deployments and capable of delivering queries 200 times faster.

For those looking to build smaller data warehouses based on SQL Server, HP announced the Business Data Warehouse Appliance, which is a scaled down version aimed at small and midsize businesses, also built on SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse Edition.

"The Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance is targeted at high-end data warehousing scenarios, but there's also many cases where companies are looking for an entry-level data warehouse or a data mart that complements their enterprise data warehouse," Ibarra said. "The HP Business Data Warehouse Appliance is aimed at smaller data warehousing deployments. Also, it's very complementary to the Enterprise Data Warehouse. It works together but it's independent."

The smaller Business Data Warehouse Appliance will be available in June, Microsoft said. Pricing was not disclosed.

The last of the five is the HP Database Consolidation Appliance, which is aimed at integrating hundreds or even thousands of databases into a private cloud environment. The system is optimized for SQL Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V Cloud, which is designed for rapid deployment, Microsoft said.

"Nowadays most companies are looking to build private clouds to get the benefits of public clouds -- get them into their own datacenter," Ibarra explained. "Essentially [that means] having a private cloud solution, which can enable them to consolidate transaction applications, sharing pools of resources and making it very easy to allocate capacity." The HP Database Consolidation Appliance will be available in the second half of this year. The company did not disclose pricing.

While the new appliances will be available directly and through any HP or Microsoft channel partners, both companies are emphasizing customers would be best served by acquiring them from partners engaged in the companies' joint Frontline Channel Partner program.

"We're not constraining the product availability. We have a specific program that we've developed and funded as part of this initiative that has the targeted training and other resources available," Small said. "So it will be in a partner's best interest to sign up for either the SQL or Exchange subset of the Frontline partner program to get access to the program."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.