By now most of us have seen the coverage of Hewlett-Packard's CEO, Léo Apotheker, as he unveiled the company's plans to offer IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and other goodies in the cloud. (Also, be sure to check out an exclusive interview with Apotheker by IDG Enterprise Chief Content Officer John Gallant and InfoWorld Editor in Chief Eric Knorr.)
HP is an important company in the world of IT; many enterprises rely on its equipment and software. However, HP's foray into cloud computing at this point equates to more of a "me too" strategy than an innovative or game-changing proposition. A good analogy for this move is HP's entrance into the SOA market shortly after the SOA trend began five years ago -- only to find the market was too complex and fast-moving for the company's likes, even after some key acquisitions.
[ InfoWorld's Bill Snyder says Apotheker's pronouncements come up empty. | Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]
Fast-forward five years and we have another emerging technology -- cloud computing -- and HP looks to play catch-up yet again. First, it announces a cloud computing strategy that includes most of the best buzzwords: Big Data, PaaS (platform as a service), and IaaS. Perhaps this is an attempt to convince the market to sit on its hands until HP comes around. Second, I'm sure there will be some high-end HP acquisitions this year or next. My money is on Rackspace or GoGrid.
The problem is that the IaaS, PaaS, and Big Data ships have sailed. Although few people doubt that HP can get some sort of offering to market, the chances of pulling even with the existing providers (such as IBM, Google, Amazon, and even Microsoft) are pretty slim -- even with a buy-versus-build approach. AWS (Amazon Web Services) is well incorporated in the IaaS space, and PaaS is a much smaller and emerging market held soundly by Google, Microsoft, and AWS.
HP, like other traditional hardware vendors, is between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Cloud computing will ultimately erode its sales and margins on hardware and software sold to enterprises and governments. What's more, replacing this lost revenue with cloud services will be difficult or even cannibalistic.
I suspect HP will deliver on its cloud strategy, and some existing HP customers will use it. However, until or unless I hear about compelling or innovative features, I doubt the market will redirect itself toward HP.
This article, "The HP cloud offering: Neither innovative nor compelling," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.