Microsoft, HP invest millions to hype .Net

In what appears to be a major win in the .Net versus J2EE showdown, Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. recently announced a US$50 million investment to promote, sell and help customers build systems that rely on Microsoft’s .Net development framework.

The deal states that by the end of 2004, over 5,000 HP sales personnel will be trained on .Net technologies, 3,000 HP Services professionals will be certified to work on .Net systems and a new team of 180 solutions architects will be formed to sell .Net-based systems that aim to address such business needs as enterprise integration, collaboration, business analytics and intranet portals.

In addition to training its sales and service force, HP plans to add about 1,800 consultants to its .Net practice, according to David Stubbs, global program manager for the .Net initiative at HP, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. The .Net-focused group, which will have 3,000 employees by the end of 2004, will also include 1,200 from HP’s current workforce, he said.

HP’s Enterprise Microsoft Services Consulting practice, which also features an infrastructure sub-specialty, currently employs about 3,500 people, a figure which will grow to slightly more than 5,000 as a result of the new initiative, Stubbs said.

Dave Gendron, Microsoft Alliance Partner for Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd. in Markham, Ont., said this deal will loosely translate to between 150 and 200 dedicated employees able to deploy .Net services in Canada.

“This is a continued focus on what we’ve been doing,” Gendron said. “Windows 2000 was built and developed on HP products and so were NT and XP. Now the new .Net server product is being developed on HP, and we’re jointly committed to bringing .Net to the marketplace together.”

This commitment to .Net does not mean that HP is favouring the framework over J2EE, however. According to Stubbs, HP is keen to have strong competence and expertise around both .Net and J2EE technologies since “based upon what we’ve seen so far, the vast majority of large companies will have both software infrastructures in their organization.”

Gendron said because .Net includes J2EE integration components, existing customers are not locked out of the .Net environment.

“.Net is complementary to J2EE,and there are applications in place that allow connectivity and workflow into the .Net environment. We’re talking about being able to add .Net solutions to existing J2EE sources,” Gendron said.

HP hopes customers will see its dual expertise as an advantage when they’re seeking advice about the competing technologies, “as well as working on how the different implementations of Web services stacks can work together in practice to meet their real needs,” Stubbs said.

Lasha Decker, director of enterprise partners at Microsoft Canada Ltd. in Mississauga, Ont., said Microsoft understands HP’s need to support both .Net and J2EE.

“The market is demanding both and we support them in doing the right thing from a customer perspective. However, we also recognize that this commitment is a world-class initiative that is a notch above anything HP’s ever done with J2EE or BEA, and we think that this further commitment to .Net goes beyond a monetary investment,” Decker said.

According to Decker, the partnership lends a credibility to .Net. Rob Enderle, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Giga Information Group Inc., agreed, saying that HP’s commitment “really does tell everybody that .Net is real.”

Rob Helm, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash., said the deal is more about the two companies and their relationship than it is about .Net.

“Compaq had an important service organization that was pushing developers on the Microsoft platform – which used to be Windows, but is now Windows and .Net – but then Compaq was bought by HP, which also supports Java. This announcement reaffirms that even though Compaq assimilated, it will continue to support the Microsoft platform moving forward, which just happens to be .Net,” he said.

– With files from IDG News Service

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