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HP Launches Its Own Microsoft Azure Appliance

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) on Tuesday unveiled the HPE Hyper-Converged 250 for Microsoft Cloud Platform System (CPS) Standard, a converged rack-mountable system designed to run Microsoft Azure within the datacenter.

The appliance, announced during the opening keynote of HPE's Discover conference in London, pits HPE against Dell, which launched its Azure Cloud Platform System (CPS) last year followed by a scaled-down standard version of Azure CPS this past October.

The announcement closely follows HPE's designation of Microsoft as a "preferred" public cloud partner. HPE CEO Meg Whitman was expected to share more information about that partnership during the Discover keynote, but due to a poorly timed illness that made it difficult for her to speak beyond some brief remarks, she deferred to her senior executive team to provide the details.

"We are extending our partnership to the cloud capabilities of the edge with a hyper-converged infrastructure," said Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager of HPE's enterprise group. Neri was among the executives standing in for Whitman.

Joining Neri via a live video stream was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who served up his talking points on Microsoft's hybrid cloud strategy, saying it's consistent with HPE's. "We are building out a hyper-scale cloud service in Azure, but we think of our servers as the edge of our cloud," Nadella said.

The HPE appliance offers an Azure-consistent system in a 2U chassis running the latest version of HPE Apollo Gen9 server, allowing for either three or four dual-server nodes, powered by either Intel Xeon E5-2640 v3 or E5-2680 v3 processors, and configurable with 128GB to 512GB of RAM and a mixture of SAS and solid-state drives. The three-node unit offers up to 8.5TB of storage, and the four-node system 11.5TB of storage.

Microsoft's contribution is a multitenant build of Windows Server 2012 R2, the Windows Azure Pack and HPE OneView for Microsoft System Center, according to the spec sheet. Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery are available as options.

Dell's new CPS offering, available as a four-node converged system, is also in a 2U box. "They are very similar," said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "The main difference is Dell's focus is on service enablement and provisioning, and HPE appears more focused on services and integration."

Also on Tuesday, HPE announced that it has joined the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program, which lets partners bundle Microsoft cloud services with their own offerings and work directly with customers on the billing and support, rather than going through Microsoft.

As a Microsoft CSP partner, "HPE will sell Microsoft cloud solutions across Azure, the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) and Office 365," the company said.

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.