Hewlett-Packard is launching its own distribution of the open-source cloud computing management stack OpenStack. The move is part of a push to group all the company's cloud computing offerings under a new brand name: HP Helion.
Hewlett-Packard is making two big bets with the initiative, which it says involves a $1 billion development investment over the next two years. One is that big companies want to get their computing power via a mix of their own private cloud datacenters and pay-as-you-go public cloud providers -- the hybrid cloud model. The second is that they'll manage that cloud environment using open-source software -- OpenStack -- rather than a proprietary management system such as VMware, which most big companies use today in their datacenters in some form.
HP is making its new Helion OpenStack distribution available free in the Community edition now, with plans for a paid Commercial version by June. Companies use software like OpenStack to manage public or private cloud datacenters, letting them shift resources among servers, storage, and networking more dynamically to meet their computing needs. HP also offers consulting and implementation services around Helion and promises a Helion development platform using Cloud Foundry in the third quarter.
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HP will also offer its own cloud computing services through its more than 20 datacenters, using the OpenStack platform, and it will brand those under Helion.
Big companies have been using public cloud infrastructure services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, but (with a few notable exceptions) they've tended to use them in a limited way. Companies often use public cloud for short-term development-and-testing uses, or for computing tasks that aren't critical to day-to-day business.
"The first phase that enterprise did was a bit of lifting and shifting [of existing workloads," says Kerry Bailey, HP senior VP of sales. But the next phase of cloud use will involve developers writing new applications built to run on a cloud datacenter infrastructure. HP argues that they'll want an open-source OpenStack platform so it's easier to move that from a public cloud to an in-house datacenter, or vice versa, if company IT strategy changes. "These customers are looking at cloud and saying 'I don't know what's going to happen in the next two years,'" Bailey says.
HP isn't saying what it will charge companies to use the Commercial version of its Helion OpenStack distribution, but Bailey says that HP potentially "could be very disruptive" by offering a low price for the cloud management software piece. "We could theoretically put that price down very, very low and monetize other parts of our business."
Private clouds are moving rapidly from concept to production. But some fears about expertise and integration still linger. Also in the Private Clouds Step Up issue of InformationWeek: The public cloud and the steam engine have more in common than you might think. (Free registration required.)