Cloud computing gets (a little) more real

HP rolls out a new cloud consulting practice, while Cisco takes a step toward erasing the line between the data center and the cloud

Last week we got two major briefings on completely different aspects of cloud computing.

On Friday, we were treated to Hewlett-Packard's end-to-end cloud computing strategy by the highly energetic Lee Kedrie, chief technologist for HP Services Solutions Expertise Center. Basically, this was a run-up to the company's HP Cloud Design Service announced today -- a professional services offering aimed at cloud service providers, enterprises interested in creating private clouds, and business consumers of cloud services. Kedrie's rousing pitch stretched all the way from needs assessment to governance.

[ Is the cloud still opaque to you? See the five big questions about cloud computing. For continuous coverage, InfoWorld's David Linthicum delivers the goods in his insightful Cloud Computing blog. ]

A few days before, Cisco gave us the full download on Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV), a new scheme to enable IT to move workloads from data center to data center without breaking a sweat (or a session). As Paul Venezia notes in his preview, OTV uses Nexus 7000 Series switches and a unique twist on the IS-IS routing protocol to make remote resources appear local, holding out the promise that, one day, cloud service providers could actually deliver infrastructure as a seamless extension of the customer data center.

While Cisco adds an essential piece of the cloud computing puzzle at the layer 2 level, HP is trying to provide a comprehensive framework for its customers to work toward a cloud future. When you're talking about both cloud service providers and consumers, not to mention early adopters of the private cloud, that's a tall order.

The agendas of these three groups are starkly different. Cloud service providers can focus on scaling, securing, and metering one thing -- a software-as-a-service financial app, say, or self-provisioned server space for virtual machines. And service consumers, as Kedrie noted, tend to zero in on the security and availability of those services. Yet those looking to hammer their own infrastructure into the shape of a private cloud have a much, much taller order.

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