HP announces public cloud launch, new services

Hewlett-Packard Co. announced the upcoming beta release of its public cloud, Cloud Services, as well as a series of tools and services geared towards hybrid cloud infrastructures on Tuesday.

Part of HP’s new Converged Cloud, which the company describes as “a comprehensive strategy and portfolio that’s all based on a single architecture,” the Cloud Services public beta will be open to the world on May 10, says Frances Guida, manager of cloud solutions and infrastructure at HP. She says Cloud Services will provide users, software developers and ISVs with a series of “business-oriented features.”

For example, HP will extend the ability of its clients to “burst” workload between Cloud Services and third-party environments, saving money on unused capacity. “We’re really creating this ecosystem where you can move environments very flexibly,” Guida says.
John Sloan, lead research analyst at London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Inc., says the current trend among cloud providers to accommodate hybrid clouds is “where it’s at right now.”  Having the option to shift capacity between physical and cloud-based infrastructure is an important advantage for many enterprises, says Sloan.
“You could have, for example…HP servers running in your own data centre that are virtualized and that’s what you use most of the time,” he says, “but then in that case where you suddenly need that additional horsepower, you can burst out to HP’s public cloud and use those servers on-demand.”
Another new feature HP released for Cloud System, dubbed Cloud Maps, is a collection of more than 100 pre-made templates for deploying applications like SAP NetWeaver or Microsoft SharePoint. Enterprises and service providers using HP platforms can use these maps to help get their applications cloud-ready.
“One of the challenges clients have in those environments is that the cloud environment allows them to provision services very quickly, but if they use the traditional approaches to creating services they can’t operate at cloud speed and it can take weeks to actually design a service,” Guida says. Cloud Maps will “allow clients to actually import these designs and go into their cloud environments, so the design process also works at cloud speed,” she says.
James Staten, vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., says such maps can come in handy for clients who may not understand what kind of infrastructure can be safely moved to the cloud from a physical network.
“If you take a configuration of a complex application that’s deployed in your data centre and you try to pick it up and drop it in the cloud, there’s a high likelihood it’s going to fail, underperform, have other issues,” he says. “These cloud maps take best practices that HP has built over the years of putting applications into the cloud and will continue to build over time…and put it into a single template.
“So, if you say, ‘I’ve got SAP R/3 running here, I’d like it to run on the HP public cloud,’ the simplest way to solve that is to pick up the cloud map and use it as the means of deployment.”
Other features HP announced include software that allows for testing cloud applications in a virtual environment, and a series of services that customers can use to help build, program and optimize the performance of their networks.
“I think what we are doing, which is completely unique in the industry,” says Guida,  “is we are bringing to bear all of the resources across the entire company on developing a common approach that will address the various different models that customers will be using for deploying cloud.”
However, Staten says that catering to a market that is embracing hybrid cloud deployments is nothing new. What is significant, he says, is that HP has got its own house in order. “This is a big statement for HP because it’s really hard for them to get everyone in the company singing the same tune,” he says.

Brian Bloom is a staff writer at ComputerWorld Canada. You can find him on Google+. He covers enterprise hardware and software, information architecture and security topics.

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