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HPE Faces Off with Dell with Launch of Azure Box

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman today fulfilled the promise she made on last week's earnings call that she'd outline a new partnership with Microsoft to make Azure a preferred cloud service.  It turned out Whitman needed some help in doing so, thanks to a poorly timed illness that made it difficult for her to speak during the opening keynote of HPE's Discover conference in London.

Although Whitman made some brief remarks, she deferred to her senior executive team to provide the details. As she had indicated on the earnings call, Azure will be a preferred public cloud and in return, Microsoft will use the company's gear for key parts of the service. HPE also introduced its own converged rack-mountable system designed to run Azure within the datacenter, taking on Dell, which last year launched the Azure Cloud Platform System (CPS) followed by the company's announcement in October of a scaled down standard version of Azure CPS.

"We are extending our partnership to the cloud capabilities of the edge with a hyper-converged infrastructure," said Antonio Neri, executive VP and general manager of HPE's enterprise group, who was among the executives standing in for Whitman. Joining Neri via a live video stream, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, served up his talking points on Microsoft's hybrid cloud strategy saying it's consistent with HPE's. "We are building out a hyper scale cloud service in Azure, but we think of our servers as the edge of our cloud," Nadella said.

The HPE Hyper Converged 250 for Microsoft CPS Standard offers an Azure-consistent system in a 2U chassis running the latest version of HPE Apollo Gen9 server allowing for either three or four dual server nodes powered by either Intel Xeon E5-2640 v3 or E5-2680 v3 processors, configurable with 128GB to 512GB of RAM and a mixture of SAS and solid state drives. The 3-node unit offers up to 8.5TB of storage and the 4-node system supports 11.5TB of storage.

Microsoft's contribution is a multitenant build of Windows Server 2012 R2, the Windows Azure Pack and HPE OneView for Microsoft System Center, according to the spec sheet. Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery are available as options.

Dell's new CPS offering, available as a four-node converged system, is also in a 2U box. "They are very similar," said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy of the Dell and HPE Azure CPS offerings. "The main difference is Dell's focus is on service enablement and provisioning and HPE appears more focused on services and integration."

For Microsoft, it should be a welcome sign that both key players are on board with delivering Azure on premises.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/01/2015 at 12:49 PM


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