Microsoft and HP to collaborate on public and private cloud services

Microsoft uses HP’s cloud data centres and HP becomes Office 365 reseller

HP and Microsoft have announced a new four-year partnership to deliver public, private and hybrid cloud solutions built around Microsoft Office 365 and its on-premise equivalents.

Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft will offer software including Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Microsoft Lync Server 2010 using HP's cloud data centres, whilst HP will become an Office 365 reseller.

The specific offerings include:

Private: HP's Enterprise Cloud Services (including Messaging, Collaboration and Real-Time Collaboration) will deliver Microsoft Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Lync Server productivity applications as a service from HP data centres around the world.Public: Microsoft will continue to deliver its Office 365 suite over the public cloud. Hybrid: HP will use Enterprise Cloud Services and resell Office 365 alongside it.

The offerings will eventually be available globally, but with initial availability this month in the UK, US, Australia and Canada.

"Large organisations, particularly those in regulated industries like financial services and public sector, have demanding functionality and service level requirements," said Brandt Faatz, vice president of Workplace Services at HP Enterprise Services.

"This alliance with HP not only broadens Microsoft's geographic reach, it gives customers maximum flexibility to choose a cloud computing solution that meets their organisation's specialised messaging and collaboration needs."

Microsoft launched Office 365 earlier this year, after more than eight months of hype. The company hopes the new service will propel its popular Office software into the cloud computing era, and help it to challenge Google Apps in the cloud productivity space.

Office 365 has been broadly welcomed as a solid cloud offering for small and medium businesses, but the service got off to a shaky start, with millions of Office 365 users left stranded by a global outage caused by DNS problems in September.

Despite this, Microsoft claims that Office 365 is selling eight times faster than its predecessor, the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), and is on track to become one of the company's fastest-growing products ever.

However, the claims were met with skepticism from several analysts, including Gartner's Matthew Cain and IDC's Melissa Webster. Cain said the figures were less an organic consequence of early sales success and more a competitive response to product improvements and customer wins for Apps.

"Microsoft's Office 365 momentum announcements, which are clearly in reaction to Google's Apps momentum announcement, demonstrate the high-stakes game being played out for ownership of the enterprise collaboration cloud," said Cain.

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