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HP pairs with SQL Server for data appliance

HP's made a joint product announcement with Microsoft: a $2 million-per-sale solution of a data warehouse appliance, built upon Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 OS. The OS and Microsoft's data warehouse software are not included in the price. Microsoft says it combines "the best software company on the planet with the best hardware company."

HP is touting the big Enterprise Data Warehouse appliance as 200 times faster and 10 times more scalable than traditional SQL Server deployments. The hardware include at least two racks of servers and storage, built around ProLiant DL980 systems. Microsoft's SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse will be licensed separately. These solutions don't use HP's Integrity servers; the ProLiant DL980 is powered by Intel's industry-standard architecture, with four or eight Xeon processors.

HP says it's faster than traditional SQL Server installations -- by an astronomical factor, matching its price point. At $2 million an install plus software, the Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance is priced just right for the Fortune 100 company already hip-deep in Microsoft products. Analysts, who don't have to find the budget to acquire such a behemoth, believe the offering is a counter-punch to the Oracle's Exdata database machine offering, or IBM's deal with Netezza, which also makes database warehouse appliances.

HP's price on the Enterprise Data Warehouse does include site assessment, installation and start-up, as well as three years of HP 24/7 hardware and software support services.

Datamarts have been the go-to strategy for the much smaller 3000 enterprise. More affordable for the traditional 3000 shop, migrating to Windows: The HP Business Decision Appliance, "a business intelligence system built on top of an HP ProLiant DL380 server with eight cores, which will start at nearly $28,000, not including the cost of SQL Server 2008 R2 and SharePoint 2010." HP ships this solution today. It's also being sold with three years of HP 24/7 support.

HP says that the Business Decision Appliance "is optimized for Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft SharePoint and can be installed and configured by IT in less than one hour." The PowerPivot add-in for Microsoft Excel is designed to streamline the collaboration over SharePoint 2010.

Sorting out these HP-Microsoft product solutions, sold by the vendor to large accounts and by HP/Microsoft Frontline channel partners for small and medium-sized businesses, takes the aid of a comparison fact sheet. HP's got one available online. But for an investment of more than $2 million, you'll have HP holding your hand while you prepare the proposal for your IT management.