Out of beta, into the fire: Can HP Cloud compete?

With general availability of the HP Cloud Compute platform, HP aims to outshine Amazon Web Services and others as the enterprise IaaS platform of choice

HP has announced the general availability of HP Cloud Compute, its flagship IaaS offering, first launched in public beta seven months ago. At the same time, HP unveiled beta versions of HP Block Storage and HP Cloud Application Platform as a Service, the latter based on VMware's Cloud Foundry Open PaaS Project.

The key question is whether any new IaaS player can put a dent in AWS' (Amazon Web Service's) huge market share, which gives it vast economies of scale. It also takes years and all sorts of deals to collect the range of products and services offered by AWS, from maximum VM configurability to NoSQL databases to Hadoop/MapReduce services to virtual private cloud capability and a vast software marketplace.

HP's differentiation from the start has been a relentless focus on enterprise customers -- as opposed to AWS' passive come-one, come-all marketing -- with an accent on "converged" or "hybrid" offerings that bridge the private and public cloud. Zorawar "Biri" Singh, senior vice president and general manager of HP Converged Cloud and Cloud Services, told InfoWorld that the general availability of HP Cloud Compute "now allows enterprises to start pulling together ... very robust workloads in full production lifecycles" on HP's IaaS cloud.

Singh added a rallying cry: "We think the way we differentiate and win is ultimately focusing on enterprise cloud production workloads that are backed with service quality, a deep aggressive view on SLA, and a deep view on customer service."

Key to the enterprise differentiation has been HP Cloud Compute's adoption of OpenStack, a broad, vibrant open source project that will likely power a significant percentage of enterprise private clouds over the coming years. If customers use OpenStack to run their private clouds and HP Cloud Compute also uses OpenStack for its IaaS, there's a potential for converged management across both.

Unfortunately, 50 percent of that convergence is currently missing from HP's hybrid cloud equation. Part of today's announcement was a new Cloud Service Automation solution for HP Cloud System, the company's proprietary private cloud workload management solution. Not only does HP Cloud System have nothing to do with OpenStack, it's exclusive to HP's Matrix blade servers.

So are the Matrix-based solution and OpenStack coming together eventually? "Yes, they are," said Singh. "That's not part of the news that we're announcing, so I don't want to comment on it."

Meanwhile, HP must sell enterprises on its long-term vision. With the general availability of HP Cloud Compute, we'll soon see whether enterprises will be willing to bet on HP's evolving version of the hybrid cloud.

This story, "Out of beta, into the fire: Can HP Cloud compete?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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