Microsoft just scored a big win in the public cloud wars. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which was half of the original HP until just a few weeks ago, will soon start offering the Microsoft Azure public cloud infrastructure services to its customers.

This is significant because, for a few years, HP offered its own public cloud. Then, just last month, HP announced that it would close down the service. Today, during Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s inaugural conference call with financial analysts, the other shoe dropped: chief executive Meg Whitman talked about a new partnership with Microsoft that will encompass both public and hybrid cloud. Here’s a relevant snippet from the transcript:

In line with that approach, we’ve reached a strategic agreement with Microsoft that you’ll hear more about during Discover next week. Microsoft shares our view of a hybrid IT approach for enterprises, and we both see opportunity to simplify hybrid infrastructure for our customers. Going forward, Microsoft Azure will become a preferred public cloud partner and HPE will serve as a preferred provider of Microsoft’s infrastructure and services for its hybrid cloud offerings.

By shacking up with Microsoft first, Hewlett Packard Enterprise is essentially going the it’s-us-against-Amazon route. Amazon Web Services as a wholly owned operating segment within Amazon is now big enough to bring in more than $2 billion in revenue and more than $500 million in operating income in a single quarter. Many vendors are partnering up to try to outdo Amazon in the public cloud business and use software and hardware for on-premises data centers as strategic strengths. For example, Red Hat recently entered into a major partnership with Microsoft, and Dell (which was once plotting the launch of its own cloud) bought EMC, which came with cloud infrastructure from VMware and Virtustream. And Microsoft and Dell together have their own partnership around products.

In play here are computing workloads from stodgy enterprises with old applications, not only new applications coming from younger companies. Having a legitimate public cloud to peddle but having no services to maintain should help Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Hybrid cloud business courtesy of Microsoft wouldn’t hurt, either.

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