Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday formalized a six-year effort to build a utility computing business with launch of an offering called HP Flexible Computing Services, which provides customers access to dedicated or shared computing resources at variable prices.
The program will compete with a number of utility computing and outsourcing initiatives offered by a wide variety of companies, including IBM's Deep Computing On Demand and Sun Microsystems' Sun Grid platforms.
"We see this as a key element of HP's overall adaptive enterprise strategy, and it enables customers to really tie much closer the demands of business, which are either very cyclical in nature or very immediate in nature, and a flexible IT environment," says Brian Fowler, HP utility services global director.
HP's FCS infrastructure platforms will be offered on systems using Intel Xeon or Itanium processors, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Opteron processors, with Windows, Linux, or HP-UX operating systems.
HP is offering three basic levels of "public" utility computing services. The Infrastructure Provisioning Services provide access to basic IT infrastructure, including server, storage, network, operating system, and associated HP management tools. The service is offered at 55 cents to $1.50 per CPU hour based on the configuration.
IPS Plus also installs and manages workload- and grid-management software and compiler software for application developers using third-party software providers. Application Provisioning Service includes IPS or IPS Plus that is tailored with installation of vertical industry application software to a default configuration.
An example of APS is HP's offering for computer-aided engineering. The utility computing service includes leading CAE applications for structural, crash, and fluid analysis. Other vertical industries likely targeted for future platforms include oil and gas, and financial services, Fowler says.
HP is also offering what it calls the HP Flexible Computing Club, which gives customers consultation, training, set-up, and access to a dedicated server for a one-year pilot at a cost of $5,000. The $5,000 fee is waived if the customer opts for a production order within 90 days.
HP also is offering a "private" utility service, which includes infrastructure resources that are not shared by multiple clients. The resources can be placed on a client's premises or can be hosted by HP.
The company's primary utility computing production center is located in Houston, and it also has a center in Paris. The company also plans to open multiple centers in Asia-Pacific, Fowler says. Early customers of the HP utility computing service include Dreamworks Animation and Schlumberger.