hot air balloon

Hot Air Hype or a New Route to The Hybrid Cloud?

hot air balloonClaiming to have a unique ‘hybrid cloud’ delivery strategy, HP has now released its Helion hybrid cloud portfolio for cloud builders, service providers, ISVs and enterprise customers. But coming almost ten years after the first cloud launch, HP may seem a little behind the curve.

With its new technology essentially a set of cloud platforms with an innovative organizational wrapper around it, HP sees hybrid cloud services as ‘the shift from running mission-critical processes on classic IT applications such as SAP, Exchange and Oracle in the corporate DC, to using cloud-centric applications like Docker and MongoDB in the cloud’. The IT giant believes that we have reached a cloud inflection point where corporate data processing rapidly will migrate to managed or public clouds – but that it will require more standardization and better interoperability.

What’s In It For Enterprise IT?

HP claims very competitive cloud service economics when compared to public cloud providers such as AWS and Azure, whether it is measured in virtual machines-per-hour cost, gigabytes-per-day storage cost, or scalability costs when resource requirements grow. But rather than a pricing race-to-the-bottom (AWS has lowered its prices 44 times since 2011), enterprise IT should explore other advantages:

  • GR&C: A major competitive selling point may be in the governance, risk & compliance department, where corporate IT gets better control of non-policy compliant use of public cloud resources (the shadow IT issue), if the Helion hybrid cloud services are as cheap and as easy to use as AWS.
  • Openness:  Enterprise customers still have great difficulty moving data and applications between cloud service providers. With HP’s OpenStack compliance, a shared application catalog, and Eucalyptus orchestration service for extracting data from the AWS cloud, openness improves with the number of Helion service providers.
  • Agility: The Helion infrastructure is a Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI), and is thus highly-automated, enabling fast provisioning and seamless scalability.

Growing demand for open cloud architectures

HP believes that standardized OpenStack cloud hardware and software is essential to grow the market and allay corporate vendor lock-in concerns. On the other hand, however, they see a strong market for their own specific brand of ’open’, with claims that HP’s OpenStack is hardened, provides customers with indemnity protection, and delivers one-stop support and training. HP’s and Intel’s active participation in OpenStack is primarily to ensure that corporate customers choose the HP cloud platform with Intel’s latest Xeon E5v3 processor as the best OpenStack platform to run their hybrid cloud applications on.

A Network of Cloud Networks

With perceived hesitancy among European cloud providers to invest in the software-defined infrastructure required to support hybrid services, by using a global Helion Network HP looks to create a common WAN fabric connecting competing cloud service providers that all use the Helion portfolio. By providing a mesh of cloud infrastructure providers, customers can use the global infrastructure to process data stored locally, and cloud service providers can offer their customers a more fine-grained global presence – much like the airlines which codeshare their flights in alliances like the Star Alliance.

What’s still to come?

Helion is a complex initiative combining platforms and redefined cloud business relationships.  From a customer point of view the concept promises more interoperability and less cloud service lock-in, but it still lacks the arbitrage options to give enterprise IT the ability to negotiate data processing, storage, and transport deals in near real-time on a self-service portal.  Helion’s success very much depends on the ability of HP’s partners and resellers to build critical mass that will create a cheaper, faster, and more transparent cloud environment.