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Yes, HPE and Azure are dating, but it's OK if we see other people – Hilf

Cloud belongs to no one vendor, so yes, we'll work with AWS, VMware ...

HPE Discover Hewlett Packard Enterprise is placing big bets on Microsoft Azure: it plans to train thousands of techies to operate Centers of Excellence for Azure, aka its "preferred provider" of public clouds.

CEO of HPE Meg Whitman claimed last week that her organization, which will not provide Helion Public Cloud from January, will go big with Microsoft's offering. HPE will continue developing its own private managed clouds.

The IT duo put some more meat on the bones of their arrangement at the HPE Discover conference in London this week, starting with the launch of the HP Converged Systems 250 – a cloud-in-a-box-type sell – that has been in the workshop for the past year.

Garth Fort, GM of the cloud enterprise division at Microsoft, who described his unit as the "proud plumbers" of the company, claimed the pair are "doing the hard work upstream" to integrate the products and prevent "downstream complexity."

"This is the world's first hyper-converged infrastructure that is truly integrated with Azure from the get go ... it comes pre-configured to do backup and disaster recovery right out of the box," said Fort.

He said the plan is to wire Azure into every HPE server, and develop "jointly integrating" systems for specific workloads, and place HP Software – specifically ArcSight and Fortify from Q1 – on its Azure marketplace.

Regarding support, "HPE is working with us to train five thousand architects deeply on Azure."

This isn't to say HPE's love-in with Microsoft is going to be a monogamous affair – far from it. Bill Hilf, senior veep and GM for HPE cloud, told El Reg that his company will surrender to customer demand and work with any tech provider.

"I fundamentally believe the cloud belongs to no one vendor, it's too big of a phenomena, it's like the web," Hilf told us.

"So we believe that for HPE to have the largest participation in the overall growth of cloud computing, having this strategy of approaching hybrid, multi-cloud and partner-centric is much more beneficial to our customers than trying to say 'this is the one platform that brings it all together'."

He said engineers and architects will develop "expertise" with Azure: "We will have expertise and service deep in AWS ... we already have expertise deep in open stack and open source technologies, VMware, RedHat, we'll have combinations of services to help customers on whatever technologies they are trying to use."

HPE confirmed to us that its cloud business turns over $3bn a year, and is expected to grow 20 per cent annually for the next few years. If only the same could be said for the portfolio of traditional IT kit. ®

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