Clearly seeing a sweet spot amid complex and costly applications support for Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and SAP R/3 implementations, HP (NYSE:HPQ) on Monday delivered a CloudStart package of turnkey private cloud infrastructure capabilities with a self-service, SasS portal included.
Delivered at the VMworld conference in San Francisco, HP is taking a practical approach for creating cloud and shared services deployment models that make quick economic sense by targeting costly and sprawling server farms that support seas of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), (NYSE:SAP) and other "out of the box" business applications as services. [HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
In doing so, HP is moving quickly to try and carve out a leadership position for the fast (30 days, they say) set-up of private clouds, coupled with the ease of a SaaS-based deployment, maintenance and ongoing operations portal that implements and supports the clouds and the applications they support. The targeting of costly and often inefficient Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint farms also points to the creeping separation of Microsoft's and HP's infrastructure -- and cloud -- strategies.
At the same time, HP's cloud hardware, software and services packaging via CloudStart exploits HP's product strengths, while setting the stage for enterprise application stores, service catalogs of metered apps as services, more choices of moving to hybrid clouds, and easy segues to multiple sourcing and hosting options, all of which play into HP's Enterprise Services (nee EDS) on the hosting side.
CloudStart is also what I believe is only the opening salvo in a comprehensive private cloud initiative and strategy drive that HP aims to win. Expect more developments through the fall on HP Cloud Service Automation CSA and applications lifecycle management products, services and professional services support offerings. HP's VMworld news today also comes on the heels of a slew of private cloud product and services offerings last week.
Partners form ecosystem approach
The HP CloudStart package -- with third-party partner ecosystem players like Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Samsung (OTC:SSNLF), VMware (NYSE:VMW) and Carnegie Mellon -- combines the features of HP BladeSystem Matrix, Converged Infrastructure, Cloud Service Automation stack, StorageWorks, and other governance and management offerings. That's on top of the globally available HP server hardware and networking hardware portfolios. HP says, however, that CloudStart is designed to integrate well with an enterprises's existing heterogeneous platforms, any hypervisor, and third-party and open source middleware.
Such mission-critical aspects as disaster recovery, security, storage efficiency, governance, patches support, compliance and audits support, and use metering and charge-backs billing are also included in the CloudStart offerings and road map, HP said.
HP also announced Cloud Maps for use with apps and solutions from VMware, SAP, Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) and Microsoft to significantly speed application deployment via tested, cloud-ready, app configurations. Cloud Maps are imported directly into private cloud environments, enabling them to develop a catalog of cloud services.
The combination of the cloud elements could lead to a "standardized" approach for creating and expanding private clouds throughout an enterprise, said Paul Miller, vice president, Solutions and Strategic Alliances, Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking at HP. The solution is designed to be deployed on-premises but uses an HP-operated, off-premises and SaaS setup and operations portal.
The SaaS, self-service aspect could be a key to the practical deployment of enterprise clouds, which HP sees as rapidly growing in interest in a "multi-source IT world," even if enterprises are not quite sure how to begin. HP recognizes that moving from a non-cloud problem set of complexity and sprawl, to a cloud-based world of complexity and sprawl sort of defeats the purpose and economics.
IT leaders need cloud road map
When CIOs have a simplified way to map their path to the private cloud, including all the necessary components from infrastructure and applications to services, they are more likely to identify a comprehensive and realistic deployment scenario for their organization.
With the HP CloudStart solution, clients now have a way to accelerate the adoption of service-oriented environments for a private cloud that matches the speed, flexibility and economies of public cloud without the risk or loss of control.
So CloudStart works to consolidate, integrate, and converge the cloud support elements -- and in doing so creates a compelling alternative to IT infrastructure as usual. Could it also perhaps be a standard on-ramp to the use of heterogeneous private clouds?
The HP CloudStart solution is offered now in Asia-Pacific and Japan and expected to be available globally in December. I see the self-service portal as a critical differentiator, and could also lead to what we think of the "app stores" model for consumer and entertainment uses moving to the enterprise apps space. Due to the fact that once a private cloud has been deployed, and if managed via a HP portal, applications in a service catalog via the portal could be then chosen and deployed in a common manner, all with a managed pay-as-you go metered model or other service level agreements (SLAs). Indeed, other apps within the enterprise could also be brought into the cloud to also be metered and charged back by usage to the business users.
This kind of reminds me of getting the values of service orientated architecture (SOA), but having someone else build it out.
Accountants love this model, as it helps move IT from a cost center into an SLA-driven service center. Over time, a variety of hybrid cloud offerings -- perhaps leveraging the standardized CloudStart deployment model and common billing model -- could be explored and transitioned to. That is, HP could then go the enterprises using CloudStart and via the management portal, and offer to run those or other apps on its data centers -- perhaps substantially cutting the total costs of apps delivery.
This way, the enterprise app store and service catalog becomes the interface between the IT managers and the service vendors. IT becomes a procurement and brokering function, amid -- one hopes -- a vibrant market of cloud services offerings. It turns IT into more like any other mature business function ... such as, materials, logistics, supply chain, HR, energy, facilities, etc.
Future of IT?
Here's where the future of IT is headed. Whatever vendor/supplier/service provider (and its ecosystem) uses IT as a service first and best, and then offers the best long-term value, support, management and reliability ... wins.
HP clearly wants to be on the short list of such winning providers.