Microsoft and HP today announced a family of converged server application appliances that provide medium-sized businesses and enterprises with integrated solutions for business intelligence (BI), messaging, data warehousing, and database consolidation. The appliances are the fruits of an agreement that Microsoft and HP signed last year, in which the companies spent $250 million on R&D, marketing, and sales related to the initiative.

"Microsoft and HP are helping IT professionals fight their biggest foes: time and complexity," Microsoft Senior Vice President Ted Kummert said. "With these appliances, we're helping to put critical business information in our customers' hands when they need it."

The companies announced four appliances, two of which are available now. A third will ship in March, and the fourth is due by mid-year. These include:

HP Business Decision Appliance. Optimized for SQL Server 2008 R2 and SharePoint 2010, this BI solution can be deployed in less than an hour—compared with days or even weeks for non-integrated solutions—and furthers Microsoft's goal of "self-service" BI, where end users can build, share, and collaborate without requiring help from IT. It's available now.

HP Business Data Warehouse Appliance. Aimed at the midmarket, this solution provides a scalable data warehousing solution for smaller deployments and complements HP's higher-end Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance. This product will be made available later this year.

HP E5000 Messaging System for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. Billed as the world's first self-contained, preconfigured platform for Exchange Server 2010, this appliance provides enterprise-class messaging functionality to businesses of all sizes and can be deployed in hours. This appliance will ship in March, Microsoft and HP said.

HP Database Consolidation Appliance. Due later in 2011, this appliance helps organizations consolidate hundreds of databases into a single, private cloud-based virtual environment with "self-service, on-demand scalability and dynamic elasticity." It is optimized for SQL Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V Cloud, Microsoft says, and will come as a pre-tuned, complete solution that provides simple delivery now and a path to the cloud in the future.

For more information about the SQL Server-based appliances, please visit the Microsoft website. HP also maintains a website that describes the companies' strategic alliance.