HP's cloud guy: Why we're the enterprise cloud

In an exclusive interview, Biri Singh explains HP's cloud strategy and its focus on the needs of enterprise developers and operations

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Knorr: Obviously, dev and test has been one of the big uses of the public cloud from the very beginning. But you're talking about dev, test, and deploy for the enterprise, which is something different. From what we've seen, for the enterprise, it's been dev and test in the public cloud, but not deploy in the public cloud. You bring it back in-house and deploy it on your own servers. How are you going to succeed in deploying enterprise apps in your public cloud where others have failed?

Singh: Let's talk about deploying specifically; then I'll talk about PaaS (platform as a service) as well. In terms of the deploy model, everyone has a sandbox on AWS or is trying, but they very quickly realize that in order to get to production they've got to pull these environments back in.

One of two things happens. CIOs will say, well, I'm 70 percent, 80 percent virtualized, so why can't I just do that here? And running a dev/test application in a cloud setting versus running it in-house on a highly virtualized setting, there are different things you have to manage. It becomes a very different experience and technically different for the apps guys or the IT ops guys to manage that.

The other thing that happens is people get spoiled by the ease of dev/test, whether on AWS, whether on HP Cloud or any environment, because you get out of the old provisioning and the many weeks of provisioning and all that. But now you can also impact the application and the interaction with the applications. So people get used to the ease of deployment.

That's why I think ultimately private clouds and public clouds become sort of one and the same. There's an on-ramp and a secure orchestration model to it. But that's what CIOs want.

People say: Oh, virtualization and cloud are really one thing. They're very different, actually. With virtualization, you're managing clusters of VMs and there's a certain management and security model for that. You're essentially building on your hypervisor, then most of the offerings drive you in sort of a lock-in mode.

Knorr: And the cloud?

Singh: It's very different. You're dealing with availability zones across network models whether flat or virtualized. You're dealing with data redundancies and deployment models that have to do with underlying application architectures. It's a very different experience doing dev/test and then dev/test/deploy. Our goal is to give enterprises the complete lifecycle.

Now, people have an option to use different PaaS environments to deploy as well. But what enterprises are very quickly arriving at is -- if they build a Ruby app on Engine Yard or a PHP app on AppFog or something on Jenkins driven with CloudBees -- they want to understand long term how those apps end up running in their environment. And they don't want to do the heavy lifting of provisioning those cloud-like environments. They just want to be able to build and focus on running the business process or the app that they've rewritten in a PaaS environment, and they just want it hosted.

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