January 19, 2011 – Microsoft and HP unveiled Wednesday two new business intelligence application appliances, with two more offerings and a cloud appliance on the way, following through on a year-long, $250 million research and development partnership.

Released were the HP Business Decision Appliance is a solution pre-integrated with business intelligence applications, infrastructure and productivity tools. Promising installation and configuration in less than an hour, the appliance is optimized for Microsoft SQL and SharePoint, and enables end users to create and share data analyses.  IT officials can centrally monitor and manage those creations from a unified dashboard, according to a news release from the companies.

Also available as part of the joint venture is the HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance, a data warehouse designed for large organizations that the companies tout as being far faster and more scalable than traditional SQL deployments.

The companies have been involved in partnerships in the past. But the appliance and cloud offerings in Wednesday’s announcement are the culmination of work by more than 11,000 employees and what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer previously called an effort to “glue together” millions of dollars in research development between the giant tech companies. It has produced a product stack that an Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson says takes unique steps in integrating tools and technology from the technology giants.

Later this year, the companies are planning to roll out two more converged products. HP Business Data Warehouse Appliance is a small and midsize business version of its previously released enterprise counterpart, with heightened SQL usage and administrator-free operation. The fourth release is the HP E5000 Messaging System for Microsoft Exchange Server, a pre-configured platform that features HP’s Quick Deployment configuration and implementation tool and compatibility between management tools from both companies.

In addition to the business intelligence and warehousing offerings, the companies plan to deliver the HP Database Consolidation Appliance. This cloud database enables self-service, on-demand scalability and custom applications, with service and guidance from HP and Microsoft, according to a news release.

Forrester’s Boris Evelson, who was briefed on the releases, says the combination of HP hardware and Microsoft BI software provide unique collaborative solutions with integration for business intelligence and data warehouse offerings. Evelson points out that these announced releases and others on the market still leave a large gap in customer agility needs.

“Agility … is a key component of any successful BI solution. Pre-built, pre-configured, pre-tuned, pre-optimized for BI appliances indeed allow one to achieve agility in the procurement, installation and deployment cycle of any BI project,” says Evelson. “Unfortunately, these cycles are just a small part of the full BI software life span. So, while an important leap forward, [the] appliances still address only a small part of agility in the overall BI solution life span.”

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