Home Now Comes the Hard Part for Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft

Now Comes the Hard Part for Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft

The ceremony is over. Now comes the hard part for Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.

HP is now the primary supplier of hardware for Microsoft’s private-cloud initiative. The $250 million partnership calls for the two companies to align on sales, engineering and professional services.

Microsoft is pushing a strategy that looks similar to the approach that made it the multi-billion dollar company it is today.

That approach put Microsoft in the center position during the PC era. It carried to some extent into the Internet age but by that time open-source efforts began to gain significant strength. Microsoft could not use its proprietary dominance on the PC to gain the same lock on the Internet, a peer-to-peer network that is smart at its edges, not at its core.

Now comes the age of the cloud. Microsoft is focusing on making its software the core technology, integrated tightly with HP hardware. It’s conceivable that the approach may work, especially in a virtualized environment.

HP’s role is to provide the data center hosting services, networking gear and servers for the Azure platform. Applications will be optimized for HP’s Converged Infrastructure. Companies may choose to deploy the platform in HP’s container environment.

You can imagine the capital expenditures for these deployments. But it’s also one of the realities of today’s market. There is a class of the enterprise that wants this type of controlled environment. And then there are the hosting providers that serve a wide variety of customers who also want a contained environment.

But open source in the enterprise continues to gain acceptance as does it in the cloud. This week’s news that Rackspace is open-sourcing its cloud infrastructure means there is the potential for a new network of open cloud offerings. Its promise is a level of interoperability that can not be attained in a virtualized network.

Once a customer commits to Windows Azure Appliance they are pretty much saying that Windows Azure will be its core cloud service. It will mean that they have to rely on the software and hardware development from Microsoft and HP engineers. It’s powerful but not open-source by any means.

Cloud computing is a revolution. You get that sense at an event like last night’s Cloudcamp here at OSCON. So much is changing.

But revolutions do not happen overnight. In the meantime, the existing power structure in the enterprise will be looking to extend the scope of what they do. And for many, that means a more complex, more virtualized data center. That’s good news for Microsoft and HP.

The wild card? How soon the revolution will take to play out.

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