"We're looking at application footprints that are large and repeatable: apps that a company's rolling out in a repeated fashion where a building-block approach lets you add appliances through a Lego technique of popping them in as you go," Miller said. "Exchange is one of those."
Several of the planned new systems are coming out of the sweeping, $250 million partnership HP and Microsoft signed in January, Miller said.
"It's an end-to-end initiative with deep integration where we have engineers from both companies sitting side by side in HP labs and in Microsoft labs writing code, packaging it all up, and building solutions for Microsoft's most-popular applications of SQL Server and Exchange."
HP's fulfillment plan for its forthcoming optimized systems is intriguing: "These appliances will be delivered direct from the HP factory to the end customer as one SKU," Miller said, emphasizing that feature as an element in HP's strategy to help customers greatly accelerate the time between their internal agreement on an IT plan and the switch-on of a production system.
"Customers like having the ability to drive a turnkey-from-the-factory solution because it gives them faster time to application value, and that means IT can be more aligned with faster turnarounds of new business services," Miller said. "If we can help them cut that cycle from months to days—and with these new machines we will do just that—then that's a huge value the CIO can take to the LOBs and the CFO."
One other feature to mention is HP's strategy to interlace these machines within its Converged Infrastructure products and architecture—Miller called it the "application-infrastructure convergence" approach.
"Customers like our approach because, unlike some of the other guys, it's an open approach and we're not saying it has to be an HP-only solution like Oracle's doing with Exadata and its own database, or IBM's doing with Cognos," Miller said.
"They also like that our approach lets them converge the best apps from independent leaders like SAP and Microsoft with the best infrastructures from HP, and we want to be sure we keep giving those customers choices.
"In addition, we've taken all of the key technologies and innovations in these new machines and we're also offering them in our Matrix (converged-infrastructure) technology, and we're using that to extend all the way from Matrix into the appliance models. That way, customers can start with just the core technologies and get used to them and then go with the appliance, or they can just continue to use the related technologies via Matrix," Miller said.
"I had a great conversation with one customer who said, ''I like your appliances, but I'm concerned with investing in a single solution that I'd have to replicate over and over.' So we said we can help him deploy just the core technologies he needs one time instead of going with the appliances."
It's clear that HP plans to become a major player in this explosive field that includes not only IBM and Oracle but also Teradata and Netezza and EMC and others, but the urgency for HP to make the transition from compelling plans to tangible products is mounting--rapidly.
IBM's had multiple systems on the market for some time now, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison says his Exadata machine has an annual revenue run rate of almost $1 billion. On top of that, at Oracle Open World in 10 days, the company will release several powerful new Exadata-type machines that will likely extend the company's optimized systems into BI, data warehousing, and more.
So when HP says its rollout of numerous purpose-built machines will happen in "the very near future," I would only remind them that in this white-hot portion of the market, the future is arriving faster than ever before.
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