Appliances Can Bring BI To The Masses

Enterprise software could take off in the SMB sector if it’s packaged up in easy-to-use form, say Microsoft’s Doug Leland and HP’s Doug Small

Core enterprise systems such as business intelligence, data warehousing and messaging could be brought to a much larger market of smaller businesses, if they are packaged up onto appliances which are easy to use and maintain.

That is the contention of Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, as they launch a set of “all in one” boxes that combine all the hardware (HP), applications (Microsoft) and management tools in a single system.

We spoke to Microsoft’s Doug Leland and HP’s Doug Small about the four systesms – the HP Business Decision Appliance, the HP Business Data Warehouse Appliance, the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance, and the HP E5000 Messaging System.

Corporate Software

Business intelligence and data warehousing are technologies that have been around for many years now, but traditionally they have been the preserve of large enterprises and corporates due to their high cost and complexity.

But HP and Microsoft want to lower the entry point for these high-end solutions by offering easy to install appliances, with a much reduced cost and complexity factor.

“Almost a year ago HP and Microsoft signed an agreement between the two companies,” explained Doug Small, director of global alliance marketing at HP. “These appliance bring Microsoft workloads onto our infrastructure and deliver on our commitment to the market-place.”

It was back in January 2010 when Microsoft and HP announced that they would collaborate on engineering, sales and marketing initiatives for enterprise hardware and software. The deal saw both outfits agree to collaborate on, among other things, management and virtualisation solutions across the data centre, pre-packaged solutions for data warehousing and transaction processing, and the Windows Azure cloud platform.

Four Appliances

“These four new appliances represent not just technology, but also extensive co-operation in terms of sales, marketing, and the channel between HP and Microsoft,” said Doug Leland, general manager of product management for the business platform marketing group at Microsoft.

“The appliances are designed to address the challenges in complexity and time and risk associated with these technologies,” said HP’s Small. “They are designed to address the challenges for IT managers around the world by providing the software and hardware in one unit, but which offer  optimised installation and management.”

“We are taking a portfolio approach by combining in the appliance, the applications and hardware infrastructure to address a range of customer needs,” said Microsoft’s Leland. “The key differentiators of these appliances is the delivery of unique flexibility, as well as any transaction volume and size, which is different to what other vendors offer. This means reduced costs, reduced complexity for the customer, but coupled with optimised performance, which empowers the end user by connecting them to their data.”

Both officials stresssed that these appliances are optimised for the channel so it can add value and “build out a strong ecosystem, as well as deliver these solutions to much broader range of customers.” Also a range of add-on services are available.

Lots Of Investment

They also stressed that most of the appliances have been designed to be modular so that can simply scale up when the customers needs more performance or capacity. The appliances have also been build using industry standard components to ensure easy upgrading (memory, hard drive etc)

But surely those businesses that want a data warehousing or business intelligence solution, will already have one?

“This is a hot area and it is a significant investment area as the explosion of data just continues to grow,” said HP’s Small. “Companies are investing and expanding all the time and are building on top of industry standard solutions. We also have customers that are completely refreshing their data warehouse or BI infrastructure, and there is a lot of investment going in there.”