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HP Helion Rack gives users a helping hand with OpenStack

HP's new private-cloud-in-a-box, Helion Rack, should speed deployment of private clouds for IT pros unable to jump the OpenStack skills hurdle.

Many IT shops have found it difficult to properly fine-tune private clouds and hire qualified OpenStack experts, so HP has taken matters into its own hands.

The company has rolled out Helion Rack, a pre-configured, pre-tested private cloud with baked-in OpenStack and Cloud Foundry technologies to accelerate cloud deployments and give its overall Helion cloud strategy a boost.

Helion Rack consists almost entirely of HP components, including HP Helion OpenStack, HP Helion Development Platform with Cloud Foundry built-in, HP's 360 and 380 ProLiant DL servers and HP's networking switches. The integrated bundle is pre-configured and delivered to users ready to be installed by members of HP's technical support organization.

One analyst said the offering could eliminate the headaches of properly piecing together the collection of components needed for an OpenStack-flavored private cloud. It also differentiates HP among competitors by emphasizing a way to reduce deployment times, and allows HP to sell more server hardware, she said.

"I think there has been some internal struggle about monetizing cloud and going forward with its traditional businesses," said Cassandra Mooshian, an analyst with Technology Business Research, Inc. in Hampton, N.H.  "I think it got to the point where the server guys said to the cloud guys, 'Hey, what can you do for us?'"

This can help overcome a lack of cloud and OpenStack software skills which has slowed down a lot of private cloud deployments.
Owen Rogersanalyst, 451 Research

HP will target mid-size and larger enterprises interested in "heavy-duty" analytics, compute-intensive database applications and native cloud applications that increasingly tend to be mobile applications, said Ken Won, HP's director of cloud solutions. He expects users to deploy Helion Rack mainly for infrastructure provisioning to support either test or production workloads.

"With this growing interest in OpenStack, many users are having trouble finding qualified OpenStack experts," Won said. "So instead we are using our expertise to help [users] to build out Helion Rack."

Helion Rack is designed to more rapidly provision infrastructure components for the purposes of developing, designing and deploying cloud-based native applications. Enterprises typically grow their core configurations dramatically over time, so it's easy to scale-up by adding more servers and storage, Won said. 

One analyst believes Helion Rack's integrated development platform could reduce some of the stress placed on most corporate IT departments that are pushed to develop and test mission-critical Web applications.

"The demand on lines of business and dev-test teams for faster delivery is putting IT departments under a lot of pressure," said Owen Rogers, a senior analyst with 451 Research in New York. "They don't have the resources or infrastructure in place to meet that demand. But a product like this can help overcome a lack of cloud and OpenStack software skills which has slowed down a lot of private cloud deployments."

Available sometime in April, HP Helion Rack will be priced depending on the customized configuration chosen, a company spokesman said.

Ed Scannell is senior executive editor for TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization media group. He can be reached at [email protected] 

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