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Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard announced Dec. 13 a joint, three-year, $300 million commitment to develop services around Microsoft’s “People Ready Business” initiative.

HP’s Technology Solutions Group and Microsoft will jointly develop, test, validate, deploy, sell and market a new solutions portfolio, “HP & Microsoft Solutions for the People-Ready Business,” around five technologies:

  • messaging and unified communications
  • collaboration and content management
  • business intelligence
  • business process integration
  • Microsoft core infrastructure

Part of the initiative includes new and updated offerings for the next-generation data center around those five areas.

The solutions, in line with Microsoft’s “People Ready” mission, will be designed to help employees at customer sites “derive more value from the use of IT assets,” said Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP’s TSG organization.

To make it happen, the TSG group will create a new, dedicated Microsoft Solutions Practice to lead the effort and ensure that more than 22,000 HP employees are immediately trained to deliver People-Ready Business solutions, with another 8,000 staff planned during the next three years. A People-Ready Business Training Program will add 3,000 newly Microsoft-trained consultants at HP.

Microsoft and HP currently share some 20,000 customers and could easily identify another 20,000, said Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer.

IDC characterized the opportunity as $9 billion in software in 2007 alone, with another $50 billion possible in communications, hardware and services, both Turner and IDC revealed.

“Rarely will you find five solution areas like this that customers are just dying for,” Livermore said.

HP is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the services opportunity because of the company’s breadth of offerings and solution areas that span hardware, software and services, she said.

HP partners, most of whom overlap with Microsoft’s partner program, will be part of the sales and delivery process, HP said.

HP is already using the solutions internally and at some customer sites, including The Weather Channel, where the HP team trained staff in the People Ready aspects of Microsoft Exchange administration, said Brian Shield, executive vice president and chief information officer of the television network.