On the second day of HP's annual Discover user conference in Las Vegas, Saar Gillai, HP senior vice president, announced the HP Cloud OS. Just hours ago in HP is Microsoft's Virtualization Partner of the Year. Here's why, I talked up the partnership between Microsoft and HP, how HP is building a significant offering for the Private and Hybrid Cloud using Microsoft solutions as the software backbone, and how Microsoft recently awarded HP for doing so. HP has also been highly successful with their ServerQuarium, flaunting their ability to spin up an enormous number of VMs to supply user labs at Microsoft tech conferences. So, HP's release of its own Cloud OS software to rival Windows Azure and Windows Server 2012 sends a mixed message.

Saar goes on to suggest that the goal for the HP Cloud OS is to "…bridge the private and public cloud…"  This seems to indicate that Saar is eluding to a Hybrid Cloud without actually saying it. Maybe it's because Microsoft has coined the word, Hybrid, to the point of owning it from a marketing perspective. But, even more shocking is that the Cloud OS will run at the hardware level on HP's upcoming Moonshot servers, meaning an underlying OS will not be needed and it will come preinstalled. Initially, the new OS will only be available if you purchase HP systems.

Also related, HP announced updates to its own IaaS, allowing companies to connect on-premise resources with the HP Public Cloud, further complicating the Microsoft partnership.

To his credit, Saar was named head of HP's cloud operations only in January 2013. He was tasked at turning around HP's cloud capabilities against competition that was clearly years ahead. HP fell asleep while the Cloud phenomena passed them by. So, these new announcements mean that Saar has taken his new position at HP seriously.

However, we didn't have to wait long to hear how the news is being accepted in the Microsoft camp - you remember, HP's Cloud partner. Amy Barzdukas, general manager in marketing at Microsoft, has posted up a flaming dissection of the HP announcement. In Imitation, Flattery and the Real Cloud OS, Amy accuses HP of stealing (she says borrowing) the CloudOS moniker, bashes HP's choice to use OpenStack, and touts Microsoft's Windows Azure customer numbers (240,000 customers with 7,000 new added per week).

Things are heating up. This should get interesting.