Tuesday, January 25, 2011

HP enters public cloud market, puts muscle behind hybrid computing value and management for enterprises

HP today fully threw its hat into the public cloud-computing ring, joining the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM, to provide a full range of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offerings hosted on HP data centers.

Targeting enterprises, independent software vendors (ISVs), service providers, and the global HP channel and partner ecosystem, the new HP Enterprise Cloud Services-Compute (ECS-Compute) bundles server, storage, network and security resources for consumption as pure services.

ECS-Compute is an HP-hosted compute fabric that's governed via policies for service, performance, security, and privacy requirements. The fabric is available next month via bursting with elasticity provisioning that rapidly adjusts infrastructure capacity, as enterprise demands shift and change, said HP. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

HP CloudSystem, a new private-hybrid cloud enablement offering that automates private cloud provisioning, uses HP Cloud Service Automation (CSA) solutions and HP Converged Infrastructure physical assets so that enterprises, governments, and service providers can better build, manage, and consume hybrid cloud services, said HP.

This is a hybrid services delivery capability, and you can manage it all as a service.

HP CloudSystem supports a broad spectrum of applications while speeding and simplifying the buying, deployment and support of cloud environments, said HP. CloudSystem brings "cloud maps" to play so that more applications can be quick-start "ported" to a cloud or hybrid environment.

The ECS-Compute and CloudSystem announcements much more fully deepen HP's cloud strategy, building on earlier announcements around CSA and Cloud Assure offerings. HP, however, is coming to the public cloud space from a hosting and multi-tenancy heritage, in large part through its EDS acquisition. That, HP expects, will make its cloud models more appealing to large businesses, governments and applications providers. HP is also emphasizing the security and management capabilities of these offerings.

As a new public cloud provider, HP is competing more directly with IBM, Rackspace, AWS, and Microsoft, and very likely over time, with private and hybrid cloud products from EMC/VMware, Oracle, Cisco, Red Hat, TIBCO and Google. There will be more overlap with burgeoning software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers like Salesforce.com, as they seek to provide more cloud-based infrastructure services.

Yet even among that wide field, HP is seeking to differentiate itself with a strong emphasis on hybrid computing over assemblages or components of plain vanilla public cloud services. HP sees a governance path for computing resources and services from a variety of sources and models (including legacy IT) that add up to IT as a service as its long-term strategic value.

"This is a hybrid services delivery capability, and you can manage it all as a service," said Rebecca Lawson, director of cloud initiatives at HP. The services are designed to help organizations "grow and manage the applications," regardless of the applications' heritage, production model, or technology, said Lawson.

"We're now saying, 'welcome to our data center' ... but we're ecumenical and agnostic on platform and applications," she said.

Also part of the Jan. 25 news, HP Hybrid Delivery will help businesses and governments build, manage, and consume services using a combination of traditional, outsourced and cloud services best suited to them. It consists of HP Hybrid Delivery Strategy Service, to provide a structured understanding of the programs, projects, and main activities required to move to a hybrid delivery model; and HP Hybrid Delivery Workload Analysis Service, to analyze enterprise workloads to determine the best fits for hybrid environments.

Professional services

HP sees these as enabling a "journey" to cloud and hybrid computing, with a strong emphasis on the professional services component of learning how to efficiently leverage cloud models.

HP's vision for the cloud -- part of its solution set for the demands of the "Instant-On Enterprise" -- clearly emphasizes openness and neutrality when it comes to operating systems, platforms, middleware, virtual machines, cloud stacks, SaaS providers, and applications, said Lawson. HP will support all major workloads and platforms from its new cloud hosting services, and help to govern and manage across them via HP's hybrid computing and private cloud capabilities as well, said Lawson.

The achievement of the instant-on enterprise, said Sandeep Johri, vice president of strategy and industry solutions at HP, comes from an increasing ability to automate, orchestrate, secure and broker services -- regardless of their origins: traditional IT, or public or private clouds.

HP therefore has a rare opportunity to appeal to many organizations and governments that fear cloud lock-in.

In other words, hybrid computing (perhaps even more than cloud itself) will become a key enabling core competency for enterprises for the foreseeable future. HP is banking on that, expecting that the platform and lock-in wars will push customers to an alternative lower-risk partner that emphasizes inclusion and open standards over singular cloud stacks.

HP therefore has a rare opportunity to appeal to many organizations and governments that fear cloud lock-in, as well as the costs and complexity of following a SaaS or software platform vendor's isolated path to cloud, which may come from a heritage of on-premises platform or proprietary stack lock-in, rather than from a support of heterogeneity and of a heritage of a myriad of hosted services.

Whereas some vendors such as VMware, Oracle, Microsoft, Cisco, Red Hat and Citrix are cobbling together so-called integrated cloud stacks -- and then building a set of hosting services that will most likely favor their stacks and installed bases, HP is working to focus at the higher abstraction of management and governance across many stacks and models. Hence the emphasis on hybrid capabilities. And, where some SaaS and business applications vendors are working to bring cloud infrastructure services and/or SaaS delivery to their applications, HP is working to help its users provide an open cloud home and/or hybrid support for all their applications, inclusive of those hosted anywhere.

HP's cloud strategy, then, closely follows (for now) its on-premises data center infrastructure strategy, with many options on software and stack, and an emphasis on overall and holistic management and cost-efficiency.

Less complex path

Some analysts I've heard recently, say that HP is coming late to public cloud. But, coming from a hosting and single- and multi-tenancy applications support services heritage may very well mean that HP already has a lot of cloud and hosted services DNA, and that the transition from global hosting for Fortune 500 enterprises to a full cloud offerings is a less tortured and complex path than those from other vendors, such as traditional on-premises OS, platform, middleware, and infrastructure license providers, as well as SaaS-to-cloud providers.

HP may be able to effectively position itself as more IT transformation-capable and mission-critical support-ready -- and stack-neutral and applications-inclusive -- to provide a spectrum of hybrid cloud services at global scale with enterprise-calibre response, security and reliability. And because HP does not have a proprietary middleware stack of its own to protect, it can support the requirements of more of its customers across more global regions.

Enterprise mature from the get-go, not late to the cloud-hype party, might be a better way to describe HP's timing on cloud sourcing and support services. The value HP seems to be eyeing comes from agility and total costs reduction for IT -- not on a technology, license or skills lock-in basis.

By allowing a large spectrum of applications support -- and the ability to pick and choose (and change) the sourcing for the applications over time -- the risk of lock-in, and for unwillingly paying high IT prices, goes down. Hybrid, says HP, offers the best long-term IT value and overall cost-efficiencies. Hybrid, says HP, can save 30-40 percent of the cost of traditional IT, though not offering too many specifics on how long such savings would take.

"You can now run mission-critical applications with the economics of cloud," said Patrick Harr, vice president of cloud strategy and solutions at HP. "It's a hybrid world."

HP is also thinking hybrid when it comes to go-to-market strategies. It expects to appeal to ISVs, resellers, and system integrators/outsourcers with the newest cloud offerings. By being hybrid-focused and open and agnostic to underlying platforms, more channel partners will look to HP with less strategic angst and the potential for later direct competition as they might with an Oracle or Microsoft.

I can easily see where a choice of tool/framework and openness too in terms of workload and operations environments joined to a coordinated, managed services and hybrid hosting spectrum would be very appealing.

And, HP is putting a lot of consulting and professional services around the hybrid push, including HP Cloud Discovery Workshops that help enterprises develop a holistic cloud strategy, with a focus on cloud economics, applications and cloud security.

HP ECS-Compute will be available in the US and EMEA countries in February, and in Asia-Pacific countries in June.

“To create an Instant-On Enterprise, organizations need to close the gap between what customers and citizens expect and what the enterprise can deliver,” said Ann Livermore, executive vice president, HP Enterprise Business. “With HP’s cloud solutions, clients can determine the right service delivery models to deliver the right results, in the right time frame, at the right price.”

These new offerings will not be a last chapter in HP's cloud and IT transformation drive. Looking back to last month's ALM 11 announcements, and HP's long heritage of SaaS test and dev services, one can easily envision a more end-to-end applications lifecycle and hybrid cloud operations capabilities set. Think of it as a coordinated, hybrid services approach to applications definition, build, test, deploy and brokering -- all as an open managed lifecycle.

That means joining PasS and hybrid computing on an automated and managed continuum, for ISVs, service providers, governments and enterprises. I can easily see where a choice of tool/framework and openness too in terms of workload and operations environments joined to a coordinated, managed services and hybrid hosting spectrum would be very appealing.

Such a flexible cloud support horizon -- from cradle to grave of applications and data -- could really impact the total cost of IT downward, while reducing complexity, and allowing businesses to focus on their core processes, innovation and customer value, rather than on an ongoing litany of never-ceasing IT headaches.

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Platform ISF 2.1 improves use, breadth of private cloud management, sets stage for use of public cloud efficiencies

Platform Computing on Tuesday released Platform ISF 2.1, which improves ease of use and automation for building and managing enterprise private clouds.

Platform's cloud management software helps enterprises transition from internal IT to more productive and efficient private cloud infrastructure services that support multi-tier applications.

New in Platform ISF 2.1 is a dynamic “single cloud pane” for cloud administration; expanded definitions for support of multi-tier application environments such as Hadoop, Jboss, Tomcat and WebSphere; and enhanced business policy-driven automation that spans across multiple data centers. [Disclosure: Platform Computing is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Enterprises looking to take advantage of the cloud do so for many reasons but one of the key ones is to enhance their agility in response to changing business dynamics.

By automating delivery of complex enterprise infrastructure and production applications across heterogeneous virtual, physical and public cloud resources, Platform ISF also helps reduce electricity and cooling requirements while freeing up capacity in data centers. The management layer provides improved monitoring, policy management, and workload management across multiple and heterogenous cloud and traditional IT stacks. By capturing corporate standards and business policies within the automation engine, companies can improve both compliance and security, said Platform Computing.

Via the single-pane administration capabilities, what Toronto-based Platform calls a "cloud cockpit," users can self-select approved services to support a wide variety of applications. Enhanced end-user portals are also new, including drag-and-drop portlet-based dashboards and customizable application instantiation pages.

What's more, the applications be can monitored from both private and public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). The degree of management allows for future planning and capacity management, to help exploit hybrid computing benefits and cut the total overall costs of supporting applications.

Enhancing agility

“Enterprises looking to take advantage of the cloud do so for many reasons but one of the key ones is to enhance their agility in response to changing business dynamics,” said Cameron Haight, Research Vice President, Gartner, in a release. “This means that the technology used to manage cloud environments should be similarly agile and act to facilitate and not impede this industry movement. IT organizations should look for tools that can address the various cloud usage scenarios without demanding excessive investments in management infrastructure or staff support.”

Key capabilities in Platform ISF 2.1 include: self-service and chargeback, policy-based automated provisioning of applications, dynamic scaling of applications to meet service level agreements (SLAs) and unification of distributed and mixed-vendor resource pools for sharing. A unique “Active-Active” multiple data center supports higher availability and scalability by leveraging Oracle GoldenGate.

The goal is to manage the heterogeneous applications lifecycle, not just multiple cloud instances.

Ease of use benefits in the new release, which is available now, include account management and delegation based on applications or business processes. Such delegation can occur for such cloud-supported functions as platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and hierarchical applications and their supporting components and services. Also included is self-service hierarchical account and resource management (including Active Directory for 10,000+ users) supporting an unlimited number of organizational tiers.

Business benefits include less downtime for applications, even as they are supported by hybrid resources, SLA-driven shared services, less need for specialized administrators, higher availability and creation of richer applications services catalogs. Use of Platform ISF 2.1 for private cloud activities clearly puts the users in a better position to use, exploit and manage public clouds, and to move quickly to the hybrid computing model. The goal is to manage the heterogeneous applications lifecycle, not just multiple cloud instances, said Jay Muelhoefer, VP Enterprise Marketing, Platform Computing.

A free 30-day trial of Platform ISF 2.1 can be downloaded at www.platform.com/privatecloud. Platform Computing is also hosting a webinar, “Building A Private Cloud Strategy – Best Practices” on Feb. 16. For more information about Platform ISF or the webinar, visit www.platform.com/privatecloud.

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