By Ian Selway, Worldwide HP StorageWorks Solution Manager
It's now almost two weeks since HP and Microsoft announced a three-year agreement to invest $250 million to significantly simplify technology environments. The promise is that this partnership will deliver new solutions that will be built on a next-generation infrastructure-to-application model, advance cloud computing and eliminate complexities of IT management and automate existing manual processes to lower the overall costs.
Depending on your view, and the press you've read, this has been perceived as either just another marketing exercise, or an agreement that will change the way customers can gain advantages deploying Microsoft applications using HP infrastructure, software and services. So what does this mean if you're one of the hundreds of thousands of customers using HP storage?
Aside from an article in Search Storage that announced the development of a HP Virtual SAN Appliance (VSA) for Hyper-V, there's not been a lot else publicized. (Here's a link where you can try VSA for free). That's for a good reason: much of what's being planned is part of the three-year agreement to develop products and solutions that deliver on the promises made by both companies. After all, organizations like HP and Microsoft don't invest $250 million and not expect to see new approaches to solving the challenges talked about earlier.
So what can be said? Well, without giving too much away, you can expect to see a lot tighter integration of the hardware and application stacks, with better management, improved application availability and a lower overall cost for customers deploying on HP. Today HP storage already offers features that improve disaster recovery of applications and information in a Microsoft virtualized environment. These include Network RAID with the HP P4000 iSCSI SAN, Continuous Access replication and Cluster Extension software (CA/CLX) for the HP EVA that enable you to failover and failback between multiple sites running applications on top of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2.
For customers looking at deploying Microsoft SQL server, HP already has reference configurations for the Microsoft Fast Track data warehouse offering. Built around the HP MSA 2000fc array, these solutions reduce the time and cost required to deploy a data warehouse solution. With the approach HP is taking with Converged Infrastructure, application integrated across the entire stack become easier to deploy and manage, reducing operational costs.
Finally, looking at Exchange messaging environments, HP already offers our customers a choice between DAS and SAN storage architectures. You can select your Exchange storage needs, based on business needs, and not be limited by the technology offerings that you may be encouraged to deploy from other more traditional network storage vendors.
One of the criticisms I've seen of this announcement is that it was short on proof points and large on marketing. I agree, the announcement didn't point to building blocks or yet another three-party alliance of convenience between hardware and software companies that seems to be all the rage lately. That's partly because a lot of what's planned is exactly that...planned, and HP, like most other companies, has a history of not pre-announcing products. With that in mind, over the coming months and years of this agreement, customers will see HP and Microsoft delivering much tighter storage integration and embedding features that: deliver on the value proposition to provide new solutions built on a next-generation infrastructure-to-application model, advance cloud computing, eliminate complexities of IT management and automate existing manual processes to lower the overall costs. There's an investment of $250 million in making what some say is just marketing, a reality for our joint customers.