In another token that the movement toward converged infrastructures and vertically integrated solutions is becoming ever more mainstream, HP and Microsoft recently announced a line of specialized appliances that combine integrated hardware, software and pre-packaged software targeting Exchange email, business analytics with Microsoft SharePoint and PowerPivot, and data warehousing with SQL Server. The offerings include:

  • HP E5000 Messaging System – Microsoft Exchange mailboxes in standard sizes of 500 – 3000 mailboxes. This product incorporates a pair of servers derived from HP's blade family in a new 3U rack enclosure plus storage and Microsoft Exchange software. The product is installed as a turnkey system from HP.
  • HP Business Decision Appliance – Integrated servers and SQL Server PowerPivot software targeting analytics in midmarket and enterprise groups, tuned for 80 concurrent users. This offering is based on standard HP rack servers and integrated Microsoft software.
  • HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance – Intended to compete with Oracle Exadata, at least for data warehouse applications, this is targeted at enterprise data warehouses in the 100s of Terabyte range. Like Exadata, it is a massive stack of integrated servers and software, including 13 HP rack servers, 10 of their MSA storage units and integrated Ethernet, Infiniband and FC networking, along with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse software.

These products are the first major fruits of a major collaboration between HP and Microsoft that was announced in 2010, and represent a significant endorsement (along with a step up in competition) of the concept of integrated application-specific solutions. For users and Infrastructure & Operations professionals these offerings represent an efficient way to bring on board critical capacity for critical applications, and for HP and Microsoft they represent an efficient path to market with standardized configurations of product. In Forrester’s opinion the slight price premiums over the equivalent un-integrated components are well worth the missed aggravation, time and risk of either self-integration of the cost of hiring a third party to perform the same tasks.