AP - Fotolia

Microsoft Azure partnership with HPE: Channel reaction

News analysis: The recent alliance between Microsoft Azure and HPE could eventually open opportunities for the channel, but appears to have minimal short-term impact.

The Microsoft Azure partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise promises to give channel partners greater opportunities and more tools to win over customers to the companies' newly released hybrid cloud products and services.

Of interest to channel partners are plans to have Microsoft join the HPE Composable Infrastructure partner program to improve the automation and integration of Microsoft System Center and HPE OneView orchestration tools with today's IT infrastructure, while also ramping up plans for next-generation infrastructure.

To help customers' hybrid cloud migration projects, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has joined Microsoft programs to assist with the adoption of mobility, identity and productivity features. For example, HPE will sell Microsoft cloud offerings across Azure, the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite and Office 365 through its participation in Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider program.

The partnership faces stiff competition from Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Dell's acquisition of EMC will impact the range of choices partners and customers will have in the year ahead. In a cloud services market where consolidation is rampant and new offerings are being introduced frequently, companies' positive projections for their cloud products and services can quickly evaporate leaving channel partners in the lurch.

Microsoft Azure partnership: Background

The extended Microsoft Azure partnership, in which Microsoft's offering emerges as HPE's preferred public cloud partner, follows HPE's decision to exit the public cloud. After almost two years into its Helion Public Cloud initiative, the company announced that on January 31, 2016 it will sunset the HPE Helion Public Cloud and terminate customer agreements for public cloud services.

The HPE-Microsoft Azure alignment will certainly legitimize and support the Azure message that partners like Accelera are taking to market.
Joe Brownpresident and co-founder, Accelera Solutions

The company's public cloud uptake appears to have been limited. Research firm IDC was unable to quantify Helion's adoption among enterprise customers as a definitive percentage.

"We primarily measure public cloud and HP does not even come on the public cloud radar," said Larry Carvalho, IDC analyst covering platform as a service (PaaS).

Carvalho noted that HPE and Microsoft Azure are playing catch-up to AWS.

"Azure is behind AWS right now in IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS functionality. However, in some ways HPE gets the benefit of bringing Azure to the enterprise so HPE gains a lot out of this partnership," Carvalho said.

Partner reaction

One Microsoft Azure partner seeking to find the best cloud offerings for its clients is Syntel Inc., a cloud provider headquartered in Troy, Mich. Reacting to news of the partnership, Ashok Balasubramanian, head of the Services Transformation Group at Syntel, would only say that finding the right products and services from multiple cloud vendors is a practical approach to providing cloud offerings.

"Syntel is 'product agnostic,' so we do not endorse one product over another. Our goal is to choose the most suitable tool to meet our clients' business needs," Balasubramanian said.

Joe Brown, president and co-founder of Accelera Solutions, a cloud solutions provider based in Fairfax, Va., said he is encouraged by the alignment between HPE and Microsoft but noted that he isn't expecting miracles. Accelera partners with Microsoft.

"The HPE-Microsoft Azure alignment will certainly legitimize and support the Azure message that partners like Accelera are taking to market," Brown said. "I don't expect it to create any real revenue contribution or change the way we're selling or marketing."

Next Steps

Learn more about the Microsoft Azure partnership with DataStax

Gain insight into the EMC-VMware hybrid cloud venture

Read about HPE's role in storage

Veritas teams up with Azure in hybrid cloud deployment

Dig Deeper on Managed hybrid cloud computing providers