Europe is key to Microsoft and HP .net initiative

Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer formally launched a $50m (£32m) alliance between Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft in...

Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer formally launched a $50m (£32m) alliance between Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft in Vienna today (24 September).

The announcement highlighted the key role the European market will play in the technology, sales and services drive to promote the development of systems and applications based on .net, the companies said.

"Microsoft and HP are making this announcement in Europe because we have seen a great demand for XML Web services here with people starting to do a lot of hardcore work through .net," said Paul Thomalla, Microsoft's head of sales for .net in the UK.

The companies announced plans yesterday (23 September) to train more than 5,000 HP salespeople on .net and to certify 3,000 employees from HP's services division to design, build and deploy systems based on the Web-based software platform.

HP has also committed itself to forming a new group of .net solution architects in addition to existing employees that will be trained on the software.

"There has been much better take-up in Europe, partly because models in the US are a little bit more entrenched. From a Microsoft point of view, we would like to drive hard in Europe and the UK because that is where we can get the most traction quickly," Thomalla said.

Elwyn Hopkin, HP's manager of the .net result program in Europe, said that his region will have 2,200 .net-trained salespeople and 1,300 of the .net certified employees.

Though .net is still in the early stages on development, Thomalla conceded, the initiative with HP is designed to bring momentum to Microsoft's efforts to offer companies a way to build Web-based applications and services as well as share data among disparate software and hardware systems.

"The .net message is becoming real. This relationship with HP is the first time we've done anything on this level. HP has the ability to actually physically go and deliver .net, and this is the sweet spot for Microsoft," Thomalla said.

HP and Microsoft intend to set up 30 sales teams in Europe, comprising three people per team, allocated to selling and deploying .net software systems on HP hardware.

There will also be a "European SWAT team" of eight consultants "to roam around Europe to get the key messages about .net across to customers", Hopkin said.

The deal combines HP's servers and infrastructure hardware products, as well as its services division, with Microsoft's .net initiative.

Microsoft and HP will work together to sell companies on using Web services in four areas: collaborative sharing between employees, business intelligence including collecting and analysing data, putting core enterprise processes onto the Internet and enterprise application integration, Hopkins said.

Specific programs will be aimed at industries such as healthcare, financial markets and e-government. "We can make a big difference in the financial markets in Europe, particularly in Germany, the UK and Switzerland. In e-government, there is a lot of work being done, especially in Switzerland, Poland and the Czech Republic," Hopkins said.

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