Tomorrow, May 10th, HP’s OpenStack-based, hybrid-friendly, public-ready HP Converged Cloud infrastructure service opens up to the public after an extended beta period. There’s been plenty of skepticism around whether or not HP has missed the boat entirely when it comes to the cloud – but thanks to HP’s sizable consulting and services business, innovation may not matter as much as ability to deliver.
Every day, my e-mail inbox and RSS readers are filled with new cloud startups and initiatives that are doing new, interesting things with the cloud infrastructure stack – OpenStack, CloudStack, the Open Virtualization alliance, and their brethren all started that way. So it’s easy to lose perspective sometimes that what customers really want, and have always wanted, is a solution that works and a professional that helps make it work.
Maybe HP isn’t innovating – rather than build its own solution from scratch, it adopted the open source OpenStack cloud operating system as the foundation of its platform. Rackspace, which co-founded the OpenStack project in the first place, has done the same. And both are competing with Amazon Web Services, which remains the 800-pound gorilla in the cloud infrastructure space.
But none of the competition, except perhaps IBM, has the services business or reputation needed to win customers with extremely stringent security, performance and compliance requirements, like, say, the United States Army, which went with an HP stack for private cloud in a $250 million contract.
“HP has the services and consulting pieces of the puzzle that big businesses, government agencies and other elephantine accounts need to feel comfortable with this whole cloud thing. That’s not a capability that other IaaS providers have developed, let alone practiced for the past 40 years.”
So no, maybe Amazon Web Services shouldn’t be scared – it has way too much momentum to be seriously worried about a market threat at this point, and similarly, Rackspace has carved a niche for itself as the open source developer-friendly hosting giant. But starting tomorrow, we’re going to start to see how a strong services arm can be just as much of a market differentiator as higher technology.