For adopting organizations, cloud is a work in progress. The same may be said of providers, though, who work to build capabilities while responding to changing buyer needs. In this evolving cloud landscape, successful providers will be ones that demonstrate an ability to adapt to shifting market requirements. But how does a provider achieve this flexibility? In HP’s case, the approach has been continuous innovation in its Converged Cloud portfolio to service a changing market. In a recent cloud solutions update, HP has identified this change as a shift towards open standards in hybrid cloud environments.
Introduced back in 2011, HP transformed its amalgam of cloud services and solutions in the spring of 2013 into a single platform for public, private and managed cloud: HP’s Converged Cloud solution was designed to offer customers choice in delivery model and to support hybrid implementations. Since then, momentum has been building in the vendor community around customer demand for the delivery of open cloud solutions. A new study on cloud and Big Data conducted by Coleman Parkes Research on behalf of HP and published this May, has found, for example, that while three quarters of respondents anticipate that all enterprise IT will be delivered via private, managed and public clouds, half of these also believe that open standards are important in the emergence of cloud computing. HP is not alone in this recognition - this spring witnessed public statement of IBM’s and Cisco’s intent to design based on open standards going forward.
HP’s claim to open standards hails back to 2012 - its Converged Cloud was built on an open platform. This past June, however, the cloud vendor refined this approach through delivery of the "next phase," a new HP Cloud OS based on OpenStack technology for HP’s private, managed and public cloud offerings. As Saar Gillai, SVP and GM of HP Converged Cloud, noted "with Cloud OS, we are introducing this common Lego-based piece of our Converged Cloud architecture as a foundational technology piece to deliver data portability between different deployment models, simplified installation and enhanced lifecycle across hybrid environments." According to Gillai, this new OS has also been a work in progress: version 7.2 of HP’s Cloud System private offering has embedded elements of Cloud OS technology as has the HP Cloud Service Automation platform, and HP’s public cloud service offering.
HP’s stated goal in building on an OpenStack core is to simplify installation of the technology for enterprises. Gillai claimed that installation of OpenStack typically involves "200 parameters and 11 different packages, but with Cloud OS, it’s a two click install and we provide auto-upgrade capabilities." Enhanced lifecycle management involves the delivery of infrastructure templates that allow customers to model how they want to use infrastructure and applications. "The idea here," Gillai noted, "is that you model once, and use many." Or in other words, once a customer has modelled an application and related infrastructure, this template can be translated across different deployment scenarios, including public, private and managed clouds. When an application is deployed, this template can instantiate the required services, freeing the workload from being hardwired to specific resources. The result is ease in scaling, greater flexibility in deployment options and simplification of ongoing application maintenance. And in terms of data migration, HP’s Cloud OS enables data portability — which is not available in OpenStack out of the box — across hybrid environments.
By adding these new capabilities to OpenStack’s extensible cloud management platform, HP intends to bring new levels of service automation to open hybrid cloud. Gillai was quick to differentiate HP, however, from other vendors that have recently added elements of OpenStack to existing offerings: "We have been doing OpenStack for over two years, but unlike some of these other folks who have been talking OpenStack and basically offering some very vanilla distro, we are providing it as Cloud OS, a foundational technology which has OpenStack at its very core. And we intend to use this as the foundational technology across all deployment models."
So what is driving HP’s migration to OpenStack? In a word, it’s about customer preference. According to Gillai, a primary concern of users is vendor lock in, and by building on OpenStack, HP is able to offer customers choice and flexibility, one of the touted advantages of cloud: "customers no longer want to pay what is commonly known as the ‘virtualization tax’ for some of the more proprietary implementations," he added. The value that HP brings to the ‘tax free’ table is capability through Cloud OS to easily implement OpenStack across various deployment models, and also to render OpenStack enterprise ready. Rather than direct an army of engineers at cloud research and deployment, Gillai believes most enterprises are looking for a platform that is "consumable" - that is "curated, hardened and has additional enterprise grade capabilities on top of OpenStack." HP’s longer term experience with OpenStack, he added, has allowed the vendor to better understand what extra capabilities are needed to build a reliable, consumable open cloud offering.
For the manager responsible for a corporate cloud infrastructure strategy, the ultimate benefit of HP’s cloud update is choice - in systems, infrastructure and deployment models - and also remedy for issues around silos of information. Many organizations today are indeed engaged in hybrid cloud computing, with applications that run in public resources, workloads that run on private cloud infrastructure and customized cloud applications that are simultaneously managed by a third party hoster. But the trick to wresting the efficiencies and innovation enabled by the information driven enterprise is to build bridges between these disparate environments, automating infrastructure provisioning in support of the data sharing to create insight. With its new Cloud OS, HP believes it has laid the foundation.