If there was a reason why HP should fly a bunch of journalists off to Cannes in France it was revealed on Monday when the two companies joined up for a press conference to announce the latest step in their pact, that HP would be carrying VMware’s ESX 3i virtualisation product. The two companies have had a joint agreement for some time (“six or seven years” was one HP insider’s estimate) and this agreement broadens it significantly. Monday was in some ways a celebration of that agreement as the first VMware conference in Europe, VMware Expo, prepared to kick off. ESX 3i is to be embedded into 10 models in HP’s ProLiant systems range to begin with. By using ESX 3i organisations can have virtualised systems that run out of the box. A chief benefit for organisations is the ability to pool and share the organisations resource offering the potential of savings from their more efficient use. ESX on ProLiant will be available from March 31st. HP and VMware have also worked together, the companies say, to make available software bundles that combine the VMware Infrastructure 3 software suite and additional automation products (which have not yet been specified) with HP Insight Control Environment. As a company, HP appears very happy with VMware, so much so that, while it does not like talking too much about the competition, it could be drawn out on some of the area. One question that was asked was had it considered a company like Xen Source alongside VMware. No was the answer. Was it looking to incorporate Citrix’s skills as well. No was the answer again or at least not yet. Monday was all about VMware, the gathered HP officials made it clear. Now there is a loyal partner.