The news came during TechEd 2013 that HP was named Microsoft's 2013 Management and Virtualization Partner of the Year. You hear about awards like this, seemingly, all year long, so when they are announced the importance gets lost. A lot of times, IT simply ignores announcements like these believing they have no real impact on the day-to-day tasks. Great. Another company won another award. Ho hum.

In reality, these awards actually do have an impact and there are reasons behind why one company won out over all others in the running. To even be nominated for an award, vendors have to produce something valuable and notable, and this means they have developed solid solutions. And, while the vendor's sales and marketing teams takes the award news and runs with it all over the place, that's not all it is. Without vision, direction, and development, the award would never emerge.

So, it was my extreme pleasure to sit down with Paul Gavin, Senior Product Manager for HP, for an interview during TechEd 2013. I was curious myself to hear why HP was chosen for the award, half-thinking like many of you, that it was nothing more than a marketing medal. My 20 minute conversation with Paul changed my perspective.

The thing that interests me more than the mechanics of putting together a solution, particularly one that is worthy of a Partner of the Year award, is the story behind the solution. Why did the company choose this specific direction? What instigated HP to build a strong solution around Microsoft products?

During the interview, Paul took me down a single path, highlighting HP's beliefs in the Hybrid and Private Cloud, and all the while I was amazed at how closely aligned HP's direction is with Microsoft's. I'm sure, due to the strong partnership HP has with Microsoft that some of what Paul discussed with me was from hours of meeting room agendas between the two partners, but you could also generally tell that Paul sincerely believed that HP's direction for the Cloud (Hybrid, Private, and Public) is a world of HP hardware running on Windows Server 2012 and serviced by Microsoft's System Center Suite.

I left our meeting understanding why the HP solution is award-worthy, and felt that Microsoft had made the best choice. It also helped to hear Paul agree with me on various bullet points (even though he wasn't privy to my thoughts and didn't intend to), primarily that the Hybrid Cloud is still the best path forward and a full, 100% Public Cloud migration is out of the question – for now. Even though HP has proven they can handle the work cycles and workloads of enormous Cloud datacenters, they are keenly focused on what the customers actually need, and that's the Private and Hybrid Cloud.

HP is building a phenomenal product and you can actually get a first-hand look by becoming familiar with their ServerQuarium. In What is the ServerQuarium?, I introduced this massive feat of engineering and included a video walk-through that was provided by the Channel 9 team for MMS 2013.

On June 25, 2013, at 12:00 ET, we're hosting a virtual event that includes speakers from HP and Microsoft to talk about the Private Cloud solution. Paul Gavin is actually one of the speakers from HP, so you'll get to have the same opportunity to listen to the HP story as I did. You can register for the event here:

The Private Cloud: Strategies and Implementation

And, if you're now really keen to figure out if a Microsoft/HP Private Cloud solution should be on your shortlist of things to check out, we have an entire web site dedicated to the Microsoft/HP partnership. The web site contains news, information, product comparisons, and tools to help keep you informed about the latest advances in Private Cloud computing. You can visit the site here:

Microsoft/HP Private Cloud by WindowsITPro