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Microsoft and HP today unveiled a three-year, $250 million partnership that aims "to significantly simplify technology environments for businesses of all sizes," according to company statements.
The two companies said they plan to provide the "deepest" integration to date of datacenter infrastructure from the hardware all the way up to the application level, with an emphasis on cloud computing -- specifically Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Azure.
"We're doing something at a level of integration that we don't know of anyone else having done before," HP (NYSE: HPQ) CEO Mark Hurd told press and analysts on a conference call Wednesday morning.
The companies portrayed the deal as an extension of a pre-existing, long-term collaboration.
"Our extended partnership will transform the way large enterprises deliver services to their customers, and help smaller organizations adopt IT to grow their businesses," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement.
Among the two companies' collaborative activities will be development of a "joint engineering roadmap," joint sales and marketing efforts, and delivery of joint professional services.
Many of the pair's combined solutions will be built using Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform, as well as virtualization using Windows' Hyper-V technology, along with Microsoft's Exchange messaging platform and its SQL Server database product.
For HP, the partnership will entail training and deploying some 11,000 Microsoft-certified professionals worldwide. Additionally, the two companies will increase investments by tenfold for 32,000 so-called Frontline partners, in order to help customers "modernize" their environments.
For its part, Microsoft will continue to equip its datacenters around the world using HP hardware.
However, beyond high-level discussions on the concept of providing infrastructure-to-applications integration using HP hardware and Microsoft software, the companies revealed few concrete details of how the deal will play out.
Solutions coming out of the agreement will be "built on a next-generation infrastructure-to-application model; advance cloud computing by speeding application implementation; and eliminate complexities of IT management and automate existing manual processes to lower the overall costs," according to the companies' statements.
Added Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business: "The datacenter of the future will not look like anything today [as we] redefine how datacenters are built."
Additionally, Microsoft and HP plan to provide what they're describing as "Smart Bundles " -- customizable turnkey packages for small to medium-sized businesses. According to the companies' statement, Smart Bundles will include HP server, storage and networking solutions, along with Hyper-V as well as HP Insight software.
This is far from the first alliance that the two companies have entered into in recent years. For instance, Microsoft and HP announced a similar alliance around unified communications last May. That deal called for a $180 million joint investment.
Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of the internet.com network.