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Web 2.0 Summit: HP, Cisco Chime In On Cloud Strategies

While some companies like Amazon have characterized cloud infrastructure as a low-margin business, HP sees infrastructure-as-a-service as "a big opportunity."

Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior and Hewlett-Packard CTO Shane Robison attempted to add some definition to the nebulous concept of cloud computing, at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Thursday.

"There's a lot of hype [about cloud computing]," said Warrior, "but a lot of benefits." She described it as the next generation of computing.

And the changes in computing reflect the changing nature of work. "We don't go to work anymore, we just work," she said.

Cloud computing, she said, "Is a way of abstracting services and applications away from physical resources." It is an on-demand delivery model.

And while some companies like Amazon have characterized cloud infrastructure as a low-margin business, Robison sees infrastructure-as-a-service as "a big opportunity."

"We think there's a really exciting opportunity to deliver on that as a service," he said, characterizing HP's role as "arms supplier to the cloud providers."

The reason, Warrior said, that enterprises are looking to cloud computing is not to save money but for the business flexibility it provides and for the speed at which applications and services can be deployed.

Nonetheless, she acknowledged that issues remain. The siloed cloud model is not sustainable; federation will have to happen, a process that panel moderator Tim O'Reilly observed mirrors what happened as isolated computer networks connected over the Internet.

While enterprises await the emergence of standards to move applications in the cloud as easily as data, other issues will also need attention: how companies implement collaboration and security at the same time, for example.

Another such issue, said Warrior, has to do with how companies are dealing with the greening of IT. "Today it's on every company's agenda," she said.

For those still skeptical of the trendiness of cloud computing, who like Oracle CEO Larry Ellison see it as last year's model in new clothing, Robison had comforting words: "Traditional IT is going to be around for a long, long time," he said.

To further understand how HP, Cisco, Amazon, and other companies large and small are approaching cloud computing, InformationWeek has published an independent report on the subject. Download the report here (registration required).

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