Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft have announced a joint initiative to develop an interoperable suite of hardware, software and management tools designed to support so-called ‘cloud’ architectures; highly scalable, virtualised utility computing systems.
The partnership “represents the industry’s most comprehensive technology stack integration to date – from infrastructure to application – and is intended to substantially improve the customer experience for developing, deploying and managing IT environments", a joint statement from the two companies claimed.
The companies said they will invest a combined total of $250 million over the next three years in order to improve the interoperability of certain products. For example, will develop server hardware systems optimised for use with Microsoft’s Azure cloud operating system.
The agreement does not prevent each party working with other suppliers, but it does represent a “very deep level of integration," according to HP CEO Mark Hurd.
The partnership represents the continued erosion of the traditional separation between hardware and software vendors. This can also be seen in Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems – the resulting company would sell the entire stack from chips to applications – and the partnership between EMC and Cisco, which since Cisco’s entry into the data centre systems can offer products that range from server hardware to desktop productivity tools.
The reason for this is arguably the advent of cloud computing. In the era of the cloud, the ‘product’ that an end user consumes is a cloud service, comprised of both software and hardware. If IT companies are to offer the tools to build their own cloud services, therefore, requires a combination of the two.