HP stands up enterprise cloud services for all deployment types

Analyst: William Fellows, John Abbott
Date: 1 Feb 2011
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Hewlett-Packard has become a cloud service provider, with an initial IaaS offering called Enterprise Cloud Services-Compute (ECS-Compute) targeted at the world's largest 2,000 companies. HP believes that hybrid delivery is the future of cloud computing, and the new service – which builds on the company's long-term activities in traditional hosting and outsourcing – comes as part of a larger announcement of cloud offerings. This includes HP CloudSystem, an integrated platform that can be deployed as a turnkey private cloud for enterprises, hybrid HP Cloud Services Automation (CSA) and HP Cloud Maps. It can be deployed as a turnkey public cloud for service providers, to get them to market quickly in offering cloud services for IaaS and SaaS. It also includes the first in a proposed series of consulting and services offerings, called HP Cloud Discovery Workshop.
HP's aim is to enable what it calls the 'hybrid delivery' of IT infrastructure for customers looking for a combination of traditional, private cloud and public cloud technology services. It is building out a set of building blocks to provide a common architectural framework to support all three.
The 451 Take
HP's hybrid design point for its cloud portfolio means enterprises using CloudSystem will be able to retain tight control over data, policies and security, run tasks on local infrastructure where needed and, at the same time, farm out other tasks to public clouds – ECS or Amazon initially. The appetite among enterprises for a range of execution environments to serve the needs of different workloads reinforces our belief that successful cloud strategies will support 'best execution venue' practices via hybrid cloud environments. These will enable users to choose (via policy automation) different venues (public/private clouds) in which to run workloads, depending on price, latency, security, locality or other SLA requirements. It's like hierarchical storage management or information lifecycle management for workloads. Everyone wants to be the control point for the cloud, and incumbent vendors have begun to support off-premises alternative 'venues' in cloud orchestration and workload management products. Clearly, vendors don't have much financial incentive to provide migration to other clouds, but acting as this control point enables them to operate across the entire delivery environment. After all, the cloud is becoming a legitimate component of nth-generation multisourcing strategies, and if they don't sell clouds to their own customers, someone else will.
HP, of course, has been in the cloud business for some time. HP CSA is based on the Opsware and Mercury Interactive technologies. BladeSystem Matrix, its converged systems architecture, was launched back in April 2009 – and has since been supplemented by the acquisitions of 3Com in November 2009 (for the networking component) and 3PAR in September 2010.
HP CloudStart, also launched in September, is an all-in-one, turnkey private cloud offering aimed at getting enterprises an on-ramp into the cloud within 30 days. It includes infrastructure provisioning, a self-service portal and capacity optimization, all built on top of a Matrix server. Finally, last November, HP introduced its Instant On Enterprise vision, an overarching strategy addressing changes in the pace of innovation and IT service delivery: HP regards Instant On as the future state of the enterprise and as the spear tip of its cloud strategy.
The HP ECS-Compute advanced reservation-based system requires a six-month minimum commitment, and is designed to provide predictable spending outlook for CIOs. But it also has an option to spike up to meet additional demand if required. Customers can choose a managed or a user-managed service charged at a per-server or a virtual machine rate.
ECS-Compute offers single and multi-tenanted services and support, and uses a dedicated VLAN with a 99.9% monthly SLA. ECS-Compute uses the HP CloudSystem architecture to deliver the service, including BladeSystem Matrix, ProLiant blade servers and CSA for cloud service automation and management. CloudSystem workloads (see below) can be moved into ECS. In future, HP will deliver a range of horizontal and vertical cloud services leveraging ECS-Compute. It will also broaden the enterprise focus and provide public cloud services for developers and SMBs. HP will offer aggregated commercial software license terms via its service provider licensing program and other arrangements with ISVs – for example, it will sell cloud security tools to ECS-Compute customers wholesale – though there are no details initially. ECS-Compute will run out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Wynyard, UK, datacenters initially.
CloudSystem is the basis of HP's private and hybrid cloud deployment model, and is assembled from existing and enhanced technologies. It essentially drops a public cloud look and feel inside the organization's four walls. The BladeSystem Matrix server it uses is integrated with 3PAR storage (it could also use LeftHand), HP Networking and HP TippingPoint security software. Software is provided by HP CSA (services catalog, orchestration, provisioning and monitoring from Opsware), plus Cloud Maps that are templates for rapid deployment of applications and can be used in conjunction with Stratavia. It supports multiple hypervisors and operating systems, and can be used in a hybrid mode to burst out to third-party clouds – initially Amazon, although it has talked about integration with other clouds in the past. Cloud Discovery workshops are consulting services for planning, designing and implementing the cloud.
HP's existing adaptive infrastructure-as-a-service portfolio includes Flexible Computing Services, Utility Sourcing Services, utility pricing and shared services grid consulting. They give users access to a pre-built application infrastructure optimized for Microsoft Exchange, SAP and other applications, all housed in HP datacenters. These users will be offered migration paths to the newer cloud services.
HP believes its ECA-Compute offers a set of integrated services management, security, integration and application functions the likes of which are not available in offerings from IBM, Rackspace or Amazon hosted cloud services. IBM currently only offers a single-tenancy service, it suggests.
As for CloudSystem, HP claims it outpaces IBM CloudBurst (which it believes supports private cloud models only), the Cisco Systems and EMC-backed VCE Co (which HP views as a closed, proprietary offering) and Oracle Exalogic (again, proprietary, says HP), by providing support for heterogeneous environments, service management and application-driven optimization and hybrid function. CSA is positioned as offering a wider set of functionality, especially for managing hybrid environments, than IBM, CA Technologies, BMC, VMware or Microsoft, which are the principal competition here.
SWOT analysis
HP is a cloud service provider across all deployment models. Application and vertical market services will follow. Can it translate its SMB experience in conventional IT to the cloud?
Enterprise Cloud Services is a foundational compute play for Global 2000 companies only, and should be seen as V1.0 offering.
The cloud will test the mettle of HP's converged infrastructure chops – compute, storage, network, hosting.
The phony war is over, now that vendors, integrators, service providers and telcos are showing up with real cloud services. Amazon remains the benchmark.