HP Cloud Services beta leaves key questions unanswered

Prospective users need to know more about pricing, enterprise focus, and differentiation compared to Amazon's public cloud

Hewlett-Packard this week followed up on its previously stated intentions to take on Amazon.com in the public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) arena. However, the announcement of the HP Cloud Services beta has little to no information about why anyone should consider HP Cloud over Amazon.com and other IaaS providers.

Little to differentiate HP Cloud Services thus far

The HP Cloud Services beta provides access to two initial offerings: HP Cloud Compute and HP Cloud Object Storage, which compete directly with Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3) cloud services.

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HP describes the beta as an opportunity to try these two services "through our easy-to-use, Web-based UI on top of open, RESTful APIs, based on HP's world-class hardware and software, and OpenStack technology." But in describing HP Cloud Compute and HP Cloud Object Storage services, HP makes no claims about why a company or developer should be interested in HP's public cloud over the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud or other alternatives.

Enterprise-grade SLAs, management and monitoring, hybrid cloud support, differentiated pricing -- any of these are areas that HP could have used to differentiate HP Cloud Services.

But no. Instead, there is a seemingly random point about basing the HP Cloud on OpenStack technology -- a point that received a lot of press, mind you. But let's look at the reality: HP joined the nascent OpenStack project on July 27, 2011. Knowing a thing or two about launching products within a large company, I find it very difficult to believe that HP could have altered its HP Cloud offerings in a meaningful fashion in just a month.

HP's cloud blog does make its involvement in the OpenStack effort a little more real. As VP Emil Sayegh writes, "HP developers are already active and many of our ideas will be shared at the upcoming OpenStack Design Summit and Conference, of which we are a sponsor." Translation: We just started thinking through what we might contribute and learn.

At this point, the OpenStack linkage with HP Cloud Services seems like a distraction. Hopefully, this will change over time.

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