Microsoft & Hewlett-Packard – a pragmatic partnership

Compared with the transforming nature of Oracle’s Sun acquisition and the conceptual nature of the VCE Alliance, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft’s agreement to “tighten” their existing relationships and work to integrate their respective products more closely is highly pragmatic.

Certainly, their underlying message is clear and simple – ironing out the incompatibilities between complex product sets such as HP Insight and Microsoft System Center will make it faster and cheaper for customers to manage and deploy new business systems. Likewise, optimising their hardware and software products to work together – effectively offering new business applications as pre-integrated packages – they will deliver better performance at a lower cost.

Nevertheless, although they have chosen not to emphasise the technological challenge ahead of them, the companies recognise in their joint announcement that “This agreement represents the industry’s most comprehensive technology stack integration to date — from infrastructure to application,” and hence that there is much work to be done to make it work.

This effort will probably include some extensive wrangling over whose technologies will make it into a unified stack. However, what is immediately clear is that HP is now ahead of rival server vendors in the competition to be the ‘optimal’ future platform for Windows, the Hyper V virtualisation environment, .NET and the Microsoft Azure cloud service platform.

For its part, Microsoft has been careful not to discount the idea of opening the present agreement to other future participants. HP is unlikely to welcome a late arrival such as Dell, but both companies may yet find room for a company such as SAP.

How the vendors stack up

IBM – the stack veteran

The computing giant is one of the pioneers of the pre-integrated systems model that is now returning to vogue

Oracle – from software to systems, courtesy of Sun

Larry Ellison’s company now has the technology required be a strategic supplier, but does it have the relationship skills?

VCE Alliance – an ambitious bid from the outsiders

The confederacy of VMware, Cisco and EMC has technological credentials but its stack vision is still a work in progress

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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