HP Unleashes CloudSystem 8 For Private, Hybrid Clouds

HP's converged cloud system hits general availability to enable private clouds that work with VMware and hybrid clouds that rely on OpenStack.

HP announced Friday that its CloudSystem 8 is generally available. It's a converged system, with hardware and nearby storage in the rack, virtualized and ready to go for either private cloud operations or general purpose, virtualized infrastructure.

Margaret Dawson, HP cloud evangelist and VP of product marketing, talked about HP's position in the cloud -- and CloudSystem 8 in particular -- in an interview Thursday at Interop (run by UBM Tech, InformationWeek's parent company). CloudSystem 8, she said, is based on HP Converged System 700 or 700X racks of server blades, disks, and switches. It's HP's way of bringing the right combination of infrastructure elements together to support large-scale VMware virtualization in the enterprise.

"HP has consolidated its position as a leader in private cloud computing," said Dawson, citing a recent Forrester Research report. HP's approach is different from all-proprietary approaches in that it is a heavy contributor of code to OpenStack -- ''We're always among the top five contributors" -- and relies on its version of OpenStack, dubbed Cloud OS, to provide the end-user with self-provisioning, usage tracking, and chargeback. Among the OpenStack projects that it contributes to are Neutron software-defined networking and the Horizon management dashboard.

"There's a lot of confusion around integration, interoperability, and openness," Dawson noted. Relying on point-to-point connectors to get into a proprietary cloud "is expensive and complex and may not feed into a broader architecture," she said. She didn't name HP competitors, but both Amazon Web Services and VMware's vCloud Hybrid Service might be candidates.

[There's a lot of commotion about the cloud: What Is Platform-As-A-Service? Experts Disagree.]

"We're one of the authors of OpenStack security guidance. We feel it's our job to take OpenStack to the enterprise, to contribute to those areas that allow OpenStack to be ready for the enterprise," she told us.

If CloudSystem 8 relies on VMware for virtualization, it also relies on OpenStack for private cloud computing. HP recommends drawing a line on VMware proprietary software at the enterprise's edge when moving out into the public cloud. "We look to use open APIs instead of continuing the reliance on proprietary connections," said Dawson.

So what's in CloudSystem 8 for enterprise private clouds, in addition to the HP blades, disks, and switches? Basically, it's HP's setup for the enterprise to use VMware virtualization, while taking advantage of hybrid cloud operations. The public side of a hybrid cloud under HP's arrangement will be some OpenStack-based cloud and, most likely, the HP Cloud, one of the largest existing OpenStack implementations.

Dawson said HP's Cloud OS has moved toward a more consumer-inspired end-user interface for CloudSystem 8, based on OpenStack's Horizon project, to make it easier to self-provision servers and related resources. It also makes it easier for administrators to see and manage resources, whether they're in the private or public cloud. HP offers a self-service portal, its Service Marketplace, where users may click through choices to launch servers with particular applications. The Horizon dashboard permits users to request servers. It also allows administrative management of instances, server images, the number of servers needed and in use, storage volumes, and networks.

HP's Cloud OS includes the HP OneView-style administrative console, based on the former OpenView approach to systems management. Administrators may burst workloads from the enterprise into several public clouds, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Spain's Arsys Cloud Solutions, and France's SFR.

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.)

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