I was recently privileged to be the guest of HP in Singapore for their Cloud Innovation in APJ event, where they announced a number of new Converged Systems products and services. HP is making a big push toward the cloud in the Asia Pacific region, with some major investments in Cloud Centers of Excellence, and product suites to match.
One of my long standing thoughts on cloud services is that they often don’t consider the existing infrastructure, from the client site(s) all the way through to the cloud’s edge. I’ve always disliked the assumption that ‘everything’ can go to the cloud, and that the WAN or Internet providers in-between the cloud and its customers can deliver 100% availability. Neither of these can be proven true with any level of certainty – especially third party network uptime. You could argue that, in Australia for example, matters have improved significantly and will probably improve even further with the advent of the National Broadband Network. That said, I have yet to see the politicians address our international links and the need to grow them in line with local network capacity. With a large amount of cloud services being based overseas now, and most likely in the future, this is certainly an important consideration.
While HP can’t really address this, it’s clear that they are taking a comprehensive look at the reality of cloud services as a whole. There’s a distinct effort to address what has been split into private, public, and hybrid clouds – and to blur the many and varied definitions of these service types. HP would like to be your port of call from the beginning of your cloud journey onward, and they have developed a number of products and services to this end. It’s very much an infrastructure-level view, which can have both positive and negative aspects for the business looking to make their cloud move.
HP is in a decent position to leverage this. I can talk to any number of people that are massively invested in HP already – Proliant servers in particular have a high brand recognition and adoption. I for one prefer using Proliant in my enterprise, and I’ve known plenty of others to feel the same. It’s reliable, it’s well developed, and it lasts. I’ve seen businesses choose alternatives, such as the ever-competing Dell, but this is often driven by factors such as cost and desktop fleet. A company using Dell at the desktop is more likely to adopt Dell at the data-center – and that’s perhaps a testament to Dell’s sales efforts. It’s by no means the rule.
On the networking and storage side, it’s a bit more of a mixed bag. There are, without a doubt, the enterprises who have deployed HP throughout… but I’ve seen ample evidence of EMC and Cisco solutions in a huge number of datacenters, to name but two competitors. Without a doubt, HP is making inroads, but they have been playing catch up to some extent. I’ll freely admit to being a strong Cisco advocate when it comes to networking, if only through inertia from a time when Cisco was the bee’s knees. They still have great stuff, and most recently I’ve been a fan of the Nexus 1000v virtual distributed switch for VMWare.
The HP announcements were split into 4 key areas;
- Transforming data centers for the cloud era
- HP CloudSystem
- HP VirtualSystem
- HP 3PAR Utility Storage
A very big part of this is around the HP consulting practice. I don’t propose to go through this in detail, but the general concept is that HP can help businesses from the very outset of their cloud journey – what HP would like to call “Data Center Transformation”. There’s a lot of sense in this, because HP can position themselves as the “voice of reason” with customers. Adopting a trusted partner approach, they can guide business decision makers through the ramifications of their cloud moves, the business and staff impacts, and ensure that their internal practices and policy are well aligned for the journey. Naturally there’s a strong focus on governance, which from my perspective is a perpetual Good Thing™. For perhaps too many businesses, this could be their first exposure to proper ICT governance, and entirely appropriate before they even remotely consider any form of cloud service (whether internal or outsourced).
If there’s a possible fault with this, it would be that I was left with the distinct impression that it was geared toward large enterprises, and businesses with large revenue. That’s certainly not a problem on HP’s part – they’ll certainly have a lot of customers – but it perhaps ignores a huge potential market for cloud services, the small to medium enterprise. I’ve long felt that small businesses in particular are the best poised to benefit from a well considered cloud strategy, and that they probably stand to make the best saving and most benefit in the shortest time.
In my next couple of posts, I’ll talk about CloudSystem and VirtualSystem. I’m particularly keen on VirtualSystem, so I’ll talk about that next!
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