Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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10/14/2008
04:43 PM
David Berlind
David Berlind
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HP Software Veep: Cloud Is A Channel, Not A Panacea

Here at Cloud Summit Executive at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, HP senior VP of software Tom Hogan took the stage to share some of what HP has learned about the attitudes of senior IT personnel and CIOs when it comes to cloud computing (as well as HP's response in terms of its go-to-cloud-market strategy). One of Hogan's key messages was that cloud computing is less of a model or the computing panacea it's often described as and should be looked upon as a very efficient channel.

Here at Cloud Summit Executive at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, HP senior VP of software Tom Hogan took the stage to share some of what HP has learned about the attitudes of senior IT personnel and CIOs when it comes to cloud computing (as well as HP's response in terms of its go-to-cloud-market strategy). One of Hogan's key messages was that cloud computing is less of a model or the computing panacea it's often described as and should be looked upon as a very efficient channel.According to Hogan:

Acknowledge that there is going to be an optimized delivery channel for the services and so for CIOs the goal is to optimize the enterprise to match that optimized channel.
Hogan kicked off his keynote speaking about the attitudes among the CIOs that he talks to. He said the big question is "What is cloud computing and do I need to be scared?" Hogan said that enterprise CIOs are asking this today and want the hype, which there is plenty of, separated from reality. "What's the business value and benefits? Is this real, or is it just another opportunity for us technologists to engage CIOs in a discussion [with customers] and stimulate fear?"

That has been sort of repeating a time-honored ritual in our industry. Every time some new computing paradigm comes along, there is no shortage of vendors and solution providers who jump on it (whether its relevant to them or not) just to have another conversation with customers, analysts, and the press. We saw this with PCs, local area networks, client/server computing, the Internet, and software as a service, so why should cloud computing be any different? Rhetorically answering his own question as to whether it's all hype, Hogan said "no" while scrolling a long screen of logos that presumably belong to cloud computing companies.

The proof, according to Hogan, lies in how the consumer space has so broadly embraced cloud computing (even though, in most cases, consumers don't call it that).

Asserting HP's commitment to deliver in the cloud computing space, Hogan said:

[Cloud computing] will move from consumer through small to medium businesses and is already touching the large enterprise and will continue to do so given the value proposition that it represents. HP has every intent to establish itself as a thought and product solution leader as the cloud extends its capabilities into the enterprise.

One area that Hogan said HP is focusing the conversation on is cost. Hogan broke down the typical CIO's budget and remarked that while the bulk of it goes to simply keeping things running, the tragedy is that only 10% to 15% of it goes to innovation and new services and that one of HP's imperatives is to bring that number up.

One reason that so little is dedicated to innovation could have to do with typical expectations. Reflecting on his own career in dealing with CIOs from a business person's perspective, Hogan said:

I'm a line of business executive and have never gotten back from IT a service that's been agreed to in anywhere near the time frame that I found reasonable. So anything that can be done to speed deliverability is welcome.

Given how many cloud platforms are ready and waiting to enable new applications without the pain and suffering of building out new data center capability, one key benefit of the cloud is turn-around time, and if HP and other cloud-invested can impress upon CIOs the importance of the cloud when it comes to such agility, then that could impact attitudes in terms of new projects and innovation.

Perhaps one reason HP (and other companies that you don't think of when you think cloud) are well-positioned has to do with the fact that enterprises aren't going to be ripping out and replacing their entire data centers with "stuff" from the cloud any time soon. What Hogan says enterprises will do, however, is they will look to learn from the cloud and optimize their own infrastructures in such a way that they derive many of the same benefits that you'd get if you went off-premises to Internet-based cloud computing. For example, to the extent that many cloud-based offerings are driven by virtualization and automated provisioning, enterprises should be looking to fully reap the benefits of both in their data centers.

The net net is that, to the extent that cloud, in Hogan's words, represents just another channel for IT solutions and given how most enterprises will continue to address their needs through multiple channels, HP's go-to-cloud-market strategy is largely about helping "enterprises contemplate and manage services across the variety of channels."

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