Inside the Microsoft-HP Initiative

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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In announcing their massive three-year, $250 million alliance to build optimized data center systems, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard went to great pains to make their respective and mutual partner communities an integral part of their go-to-market strategy. It’s a stark contrast to other vendors’ approach.

The many reports that peg the Microsoft-HP alliance as a cloud computing initiative are imprecise. This deal is simply about the data center and using the data center as a platform for private and hybrid clouds – eventually. The concept is very much in line with the Microsoft "software+services" framework, which states that businesses will always have some level of on-premise infrastructure and applications.

But this is more than just the creation of better data centers and private clouds. It’s about attached sales. Under CEO Mark Hurd’s leadership, HP has driven the notion of attached sales through its channel – if a partner is going to sell a server, why not sell a software, desktop or peripheral unit with it. Attached sales increases revenue and profitability by increasing the sales yield from a fewer number of sales engagements and customer touches. Microsoft applications optimized and simplified to run on HP servers will undoubtedly lead to a higher attached sales rate for both companies and its partners.

Microsoft and HP were smart about this announcement, though, in that they involved their partner community from the get-go. It’s not to say that the roadmap is crystal clear. Just as with Cisco’s Project California and UCS strategy, the Microsoft-HP announcement came with plenty of vague notions and many promises of great things to come. But unlike Cisco, Microsoft-HP provided their partners – 35,000 eligible resellers through their mutual Frontline program – with marketing materials, go-to-market templates and guidance on what’s available to sell today.

What is available today? There is virtualization software for HP servers, optimized implementations of SharePoint on HP hardware and similar offerings in the existing Frontline program. As Microsoft’s Brown explain, the initiative will create smart bundles – prebuilt and packaged software and hardware offerings – that will make it easier for partners to sell, deploy, manage and service customers’ needs. "The approach is not a competitive one, but one with the customers view and a partner view on how to solve customers’ needs," Brown said.

Do Microsoft and HP have all the answers for how their massive initiative will work or what it will produce for its partners? No. In fact, many partners hadn’t heard of the alliance because Microsoft and HP were extremely careful about not violating antitrust rules. But it seems as though Microsoft and HP are—so far—doing well by their partners in the initial stages of this alliance. While no product or alliance launch is perfect or delivers absolute results, the approach Microsoft and HP are taking is anything but "hurry up and wait."


Lawrence M. Walsh is vice president and group publisher of Channel Insider. Click here to read his blog, Secure Channel, for the latest insights on security technology and policy trends affecting solution providers 

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Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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