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4 Business imperatives driving the cloud revolution




Guest post by

William L. Franklin

Vice President, OpenStack and Technology Enablement, HP Cloud


dinner-table.jpgIf you randomly invited a dozen Fortune 500 CIOs to a dinner to discuss “Evaluating Software for the Cloud,” you would discover that each has a different definition of “the cloud”.


That poses a special challenge for me as I focus on advancing HP Helion - HP’s portfolio of cloud products and services – in the New Style of IT. With everyone have different definitions, it is hard to find a place to begin the conversation.

Everyone at our imaginary dinner table would be well aware that cloud computing is the third great revolution in computing infrastructure. However, as the evening goes along, it would become clear that only two or three CIOs have any projects in motion to revise their apps to run in the cloud. Several will have some projects that use virtualized infrastructure, which they think makes those projects “cloud ready”. The rest will have nothing going on as they take a wait-and-see position.


This is exactly what happened in the previous IT revolutions. The first revolution was the advent of mainframes fifty years ago, which drove companies to computerize paper processes. The second revolution was the advent of client-server architecture, which, ultimately, enabled the Internet. That transformation – from a mainframe-based world to a hybrid world of mainframe and client-server – took five to ten years for most companies – twenty for some late adopters. (Just think back to tools like Tuxedo.) 


The third revolution – the rise of elastic, horizontal, or cloud-based computing – is happening much more rapidly. We are already beyond the bleeding edge, but for Fortune 500 enterprises, the cloud transformation is still in its early stages. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen fast enough. The technological and business drivers are inescapable.


It comes down to four fundamentals:

  1. Big Data. As devices and apps proliferate, a huge amount of data is being generated. By 2020, global data will be measured in zettabytes, according to HP internal research. The traditional client-server file system just can’t handle this explosion of data, which is generated from customer engagement, social media, and billions of apps reporting.
  2. Data Analytics. Businesses want to do deep analytics on all that data. That requires a lot of computing horsepower, sometimes only for brief periods. An elastic infrastructure is needed that can scale up and down based on the demand for analysis.
  3. Frequent Updates. Businesses are rolling out updates much more frequently, with a goal of continuous integration. For example, I have more than sixty apps on my smart phone. I turned my phone off for two days while I was traveling, and when I turned it back on, I had 11 updates. Ten years ago, software patches and feature upgrades were issued monthly or quarterly. That doesn’t cut it anymore.
  4. Spikes and lulls. IT must be provisioned to handle spikes in demand. If you can’t handle the spikes, then the business loses money. Brick and mortar stores that move to the web must be able to handle the seasonal rush. Investment banks on Wall Street have to be able to handle the heaviest days of trading, which might take ten times or a hundred times more servers than a slow day. Provisioning your IT for record peaks leaves a massive amount of capital tied up for a rare peak day. It is like the Olympic sport parks we build every four years, which are rarely ever used again to the same capacity. It just doesn’t make good business sense.

These four business imperatives – more than technology – are driving the cloud revolution. In every industry the desire is to build and deploy rapidly, update quickly, and use data for better market intelligence. Every enterprise on the planet needs this.


That is what elastic and scalable cloud computing can deliver. The cloud offers a way to increase compute capacity on demand, allowing you to use only what you need and pay for only what you use. That is why HP is preparing for a hybrid cloud world based on open-source OpenStack® technology.


OpenStack is a highly customizable approach to hybrid cloud computing. HP will be showing HP Helion – its complete cloud portfolio of public, private, managed cloud and traditional IT  – at the GigaOM Structure Conference on June 18 and 19 at the Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco. Key HP events are:

  • HP’s big play in cloud infrastructure with Bill Veghte, EVP & GM, HP Enterprise Group - June 18, 3:15 pm PT
  • HP Helion Hybrid Cloud Solutions in Action with Jathin Ullal, Marketing Manager - June 18, 3:45 pm in Conf. Room 2

Connected to customers


The ability to rapidly respond to connected customers is increasingly relevant to enterprises because user experience has become a differentiating weapon. The faster you turn your apps the better. It allows your company to respond to the demands of connected consumers and business clients. The more you know about your customers – gathering insights from the mountain of data you have collected – the better you can serve your customers and fend off rivals. 


More than virtualization

Most of the CIOs at our fictional CIO dinner party will confuse the virtualization of IT infrastructure with being ready to move applications to the cloud. Virtualization is just the first step – a prerequisite. To get the real business advantages from the cloud – continuous updating and scalability – the workloads have to be transformed to take advantage of this elastic nature of the cloud. CIOs everywhere are engaged in inventorying their software and trying to determine which applications to convert to a cloud workflow. Not everything needs to be moved to the cloud.  The decision of what gets moved needs to be an informed business decision.


This is the same thing that happened in the mainframe world when client-server architecture appeared. CIOs had to figure out what made sense to keep on the mainframe, and what should move to client-server. The decision is not always about the technology. It may be a business decision based on the software’s lifecycle.

Just as client-server did not completely replace mainframes, cloud will not completely replace its predecessors. For the foreseeable future, we will have three worlds of computing.


Which type of cloud?

Once our dining CIOs have figured out what software to move to the cloud, they will face the next dilemma – which type of cloud?  They need to decide between:

  • A private cloud, where the enterprise continues to own all the capacity required to meet peak demand
  • A public cloud, where you pay for only what you use, with your data being stored on your service providers data center
  • Or a hybrid cloud – a combination of public and private cloud environments

At HP, we see that most enterprise CIOs are recognizing the benefits of a hybrid cloud solution based on open source OpenStack technology. HP Helion brings together all the benefits and agility of cloud, all the possibilities and interoperability of open source, and all the security and all the reliability enterprises need to move forward with confidence. In the final analysis, that is what every business needs.


Once our party of dining CIOs has completed the main course, what should we serve for dessert? Perhaps software-defined data center a la mode?


Helion logo.pngCome stop by the HP Helion Table #27 at GigaOM Structure in San Francisco, June 18 and 19, to learn more about HP Helion and our commitment to OpenStack and Cloud Foundry. Also, we look forward to seeing you at the HP Helion Cocktail Party on June 18, 5:45pm PT at the Fisher Café in the Mission Bay Conference Center, to network and chat about your business needs and how HP Helion is driving innovation in Enterprise IT.

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