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Did HP blacken the skies or address the multitude of cloud demands?

CV on ‎02-14-2011 09:56 AM

A couple of days ago I read an article from The Register titled “HP blackens the skies with Cloud offerings” by Timothy Prickett Morgan. It would be nice if one size fits all, but unfortunately that is not how things work. I’d like to talk about some basics and address customers’ issues and demands.

So, let’s look at a couple of scenarios and identify the offerings HP introduced. BladeSystem Matrix is a cloud building block, allowing users to provision physical and virtual servers. It is like “push button data center”, enabling the development of cloud environments. The Itanium based Integrity blade support in Matrix came about as result of customer demand and has little to do with cloud.

HP’s cloud strategy recognizes multiple needs which we have categorized in four areas:

  • Build, for customers wanting to develop their own private cloud.
  • Consume, for customers wanting to consume cloud services in a pay-per-use mode.
  • Manage & Secure, addressing the specific needs of hybrid delivery where traditional environments, private and public cloud environments need to interact in a secure manner.
  • Transform, services helping customers identify, plan, implement and deploy the cloud environment that suits their needs best.

The Value of Cloud

Let’s assume a CIO wants to understand what value Cloud can bring to his/her organization. This is a build scenario.  As the department develops a lot of software, being able to provision environments quickly is of the essence. As the existing development and test servers get older, they are looking for a complete environment allowing them to speed-up development and test. This is where CloudStart plays a role. It’s a combination of BladeSystem Matrix and services to deliver up to four services within 30 days after hardware install. Listen to how Carnegie Mellon University achieved just that.

Let’s assume the CIO has gained great benefits from this initial proof of concept and now wants to transform his/her datacentre in a private cloud. One fundamental question needs to be answered first. Does he/she wants to keep the existing hardware or is the hardware amortized and should be renewed? If the latter is true, this is where CloudSystem comes into the scenario.

CloudSystem, also based on the Matrix infrastructure, complements it with Cloud Service Automation (CSA), a software suite geared at the automation of provisioning, management and operational IT processes. Not only does it allow the automation of service and resource provisioning, but it also takes care of key processes that need to be performed to already provisioned environments. This includes patch management, reconfigurations, etc. To facilitate the roll-out of application-enabled cloud environments, HP and their partners maintain CloudMaps to configure and provision leading business applications from companies such as Microsoft, SAP, SAS, PTC and others, accelerating the automation of business applications.  A number of additional optional components provide capabilities to aggregate services from external service providers, billing and charge-back capabilities and an integrated portal/service catalog function if that is required.

Let’s assume the CIO instead uses his/her existing infrastructure as a number of deployed servers are already available within the enterprise. In that case, no need for Matrix, but the CSA software suite can still be used. Indeed, CSA works not only on top of Matrix, but also with many other HP and non-HP hardware platforms. Obviously, the potential lack of standardization may make optimizing the heterogeneous environment more difficult, but that should not stop the building of a credible private cloud. The optional components described above are also available in this situation.


No more hassle

Let’s now take another approach. The CIO no longer wants the hassle of running a datacentre and is looking for an external pay-per-use model. But he or she needs to make sure appropriate security levels are enforced, the company operations remain compliant and proper service level agreements are agreed upon. He or she wants a contract, a monthly bill and a clear understanding of where his or her information is, what the security processes are and how his or her users interact with the system. This is where Enterprise Cloud Services-Compute  actually comes in. He or she provisions the windows, Linux or HP-UX environments needed to securely run the enterprise applications. They will run in HP datacentres. The CIO can at any moment in time increase or decrease the amount of resources needed, and receives a bill for the amount consumed at the end of the month.

After learning about the various options the CIO and his team now want to make a decision. They want to understand the implications of Cloud to their organization, how it could help them achieve their objectives, what they need to keep in mind, what decisions need to be taken, what a possible roadmap would be, etc. Well, the easiest way to do that is by attending a one or two day Cloud Discovery workshop. The objective of the workshop is to have business and IT people reviewing the implications of using cloud in the enterprise and determine transformational areas such as security, financials and applications. Indeed, cloud is not just a technology issue; there are many other aspects that need to be looked at. The Cloud Discovery Workshop allows the building of consensus throughout the organization, on those topics.


One size does not fit all

Customers have multiple needs, and one size does not fit all. Cloud is a complex subject as it addresses many disparate needs, often resulting in confusion. I suppose that is what The Register refers to. HP is addressing those needs one by one. Yes, we are re-using existing building blocks in the process. They just happen to address specific cloud needs, sorry but we don’t have to rebuild everything from scratch. And maybe, according to Mr. Timothy Prickett Morgan, I may have just gained a promising career as an HP sales rep. Who knows?

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