At Discover 2011 last week, Hewlett-Packard Co. made a slew of announcements around the cloud, with an emphasis on helping build a hybrid environment. For service providers, this means a new approach to cloud business models for service consumption. Other announcements address issues such as security concerns and lack of internal cloud skills.
HP says it will provide a complete cloud portfolio, so customers can run their own private clouds, runs apps in a secure business-grade public cloud, or take a hybrid approach. “No two customers are in the same place or will take this journey at the same pace, and when they get there the destination will change,” said Pete Karolczak, senior vice-president and general manager ITO, with HP’s Enterprise Services.
“Public infrastructure services is just the beginning,” said Biri Singh, senior vice-president and general manager of HP Cloud Services. Layered on top of HP cloud infrastructure services (IaaS), HP will offer four services, including platform-as-a-service (PaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS) and independent software vendor cloud hosting and integration, a cloud partner ecosystem, as well as hybrid cloud connectivity services.
“When we talk about SaaS for ISVs, they’re looking to host on secure, certified clouds,” said Singh. “HP will be one of many cloud providers, but we’re focused on a secure business-grade cloud.” As part of this, HP will offer service level agreements on its offering, but will not disclose the SLA terms until launch.
According to research firm Gartner Inc., through 2020, the most common use of cloud services will be a hybrid model combining on-premise and external cloud services.
To address this market, HP is integrating its CloudSystem with Alcatel-Lucent technology to allow service providers to provision and manage cloud resources over a carrier-class network. Its CloudAgile Service Provider Program will offer new certified hosting options for service providers to deliver private hosted clouds based on HP CloudSystem.
Today, applications in the cloud are typically managed disparately, so the idea is to manage IT infrastructure and network services from a single pane of glass, even allowing customers to sign up for premium services – increased bandwidth, for example – from their service provider, said Steve Dietch, vice-president of cloud solutions and infrastructure with HP.
The integration of CloudSystem with Alcatel-Lucent technology will help service providers aggregate enterprise cloud services to go after the SMB market, said Sita Lowman, with HP’s solutions portfolio management. “We see carriers becoming a broker, aggregating those services,” she said. While HP is building out its own cloud services, carriers can aggregate cloud services from any vendor.
Because so many apps are now being offered in a SaaS format by third parties, an emerging “cloud broker” services market is forming. Rather than getting different apps from different vendors, a company could get their enterprise SaaS-based apps from one provider.
Eventually, companies would get one consolidated bill, and since some apps are usage-based and some are monthly-fee-based, service providers could create bundles across the two domains, said Lowman. This model will include HP’s partner network, which can white-label cloud offerings to their customers.
There is demand for the ability to white-label cloud services in Canada from web hosting providers, telcos and cable companies alike, as long as the underlying infrastructure being re-sold is on Canadian soil, said Derek Silva, research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group.
“Canadian businesses are generally behind the curve when it comes to adopting new, disruptive technologies, but anything that lets a Web hosting company, like HostPapa, or a cable company, like Rogers, focus on marketing and supporting the service rather than building it is surely attractive to them,” said Silva.
The biggest challenges would include being beholden to the service provider to provide a compelling user experience, the markup to make a profit – which could potentially make the service less attractive – and integrating the service into existing client management, billing and support applications, said Silva. And there is still plenty of work to be done by service providers looking to resell the service to make sure it works properly.
There are several other cloud providers offering white-labeled versions of their services, including GoGrid, ValueReseller, PhoenixNAP and OpSource. “This is by no means a saturated market, though, since many other service providers focus on providing specific services, such as cloud-based backup, virtual desktops and cloud-based e-mail,” said Silva.
HP also made several announcements about its cloud infrastructure, including enhancements to HP Enterprise Cloud Services-Compute, which include the ability to automate the distribution of application workloads across multiple servers for improved performance, and the ability to provision and manage additional virtual local area networks within a cloud environment.
Also, HP’s Enterprise Cloud Services for SAP Development and Sandbox Solution will allow companies to prototype SAP ERP software via a virtual cloud using a consumption-based model. And HP Cloud Applications Services for Windows Azure is designed to help accelerate development or migration of applications to Microsoft’s Azure platform-as-a-service offering.
HP also rolled out its Cloud Protection Program to deliver security for a hybrid cloud environment from a single source (which would be comparable to a private Internet-enabled IT environment). And it announced ExpertONE certifications, which are meant to address the business and technical skills shortage around cloud, including Master Cloud Integrator, Cloud Integrator and Cloud Architect.