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HP Helion gets a boost from PaaS acquisition

HP has one more Cloud Foundry PaaS offering following an acquisition that may help the company get into more hybrid cloud projects.

HP continues to add to its open source cloud portfolio as it seeks to be all things cloud to all enterprises.

The Palo Alto-based tech giant agreed this week to acquire ActiveState's platform as a service (PaaS) offering Stackato for an undisclosed sum. The two sides have had a relationship for years, with HP acting as an OEM, but this move is intended to solidify HP's services at this layer of the cloud stack.

Service-Flow Corp., a software as a service provider of service integration based in Helsinki, started using Stackato last year after its previous PaaS vendor, CloudBees, abandoned the market.

There are very few PaaS providers that meet the company's needs for continuous delivery, but things have gone well with Stackato so far, said CTO Janne Kärkkäinen. Because of the limited options and growing interest in this market, it's not surprising that one of the large vendors bought them up, he added.

It's business as usual for now for Service-Flow, and while not all deals end up well, the hope is that Stackato will keep its staff onboard and deliver the same level of service, Kärkkäinen said.

"The people at Stackato… built their company and they have an idea that HP saw and wanted to purchase," Kärkkäinen said. "You want to believe that HP brings the muscle and the resources for going the extra mile."

Once the deal is complete, ActiveState's Stackato development team will be folded into the HP cloud business.

Vancouver-based Stackato was one of the first credible PaaS offerings when it launched, and unlike other offerings at the time, it wasn't language-dependent, said Lauren Nelson, senior analyst at Forrester Research, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass. It remains a highly respected, proven technology and the acquisition is a strong play by HP.

What it shows is they didn't think they could get the movement forward on the PaaS side, so now they've bought a tool to essentially be that layer.
Lauren Nelsonsenior analyst at Forrester Research

Almost every vendor in this space is trying to deliver some Cloud Foundry offering, including IBM Bluemix and Pivotal CF, which is part of the EMC Federation. HP already has a Cloud Foundry-based PaaS offering with Helion Development Platform, which launched in October 2014. And while HP says the product has received increased interest and feedback from customers, the Stackato acquisition doesn't speak well to its success, Nelson said.

"What it shows is they didn't think they could get the movement forward on the PaaS side, so now they've bought a tool to essentially be that layer," Nelson said.

HP denies this acquisition signals an issue with Helion Development Platform's success, saying Stackato complements and completes its existing PaaS. ActiveState's technology helps customers bring applications to market faster by reducing the amount of time spent on IT configuration, a spokesperson said.

HP continues agnostic cloud trend

With Stackato and HP already aligned, the deal makes sense because it fits the all-inclusive, agnostic approach to cloud, said Dana Gardner, president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions LLC, based in Gilford, N.H.

Last May HP launched Helion, a suite of open source hybrid cloud services that represented its biggest push yet into cloud.

HP was criticized when it launched Helion, but it has started to show its potential as customers increasingly pursue hybrid environments, Gardner said. And that model of openness and neutrality, along with its existing relationships with other large vendors, will suit the company  well in the future, as each customer has its own definition of hybrid and that definition will change as they progress toward cloud.

"I don't think HP is trying to shoehorn enterprises into its vision," Gardner said. "It's trying to accommodate each enterprise based on their individual needs."

Trevor Jones is a news writer for TechTarget’s Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. Contact him at tjones@techtarget.com.

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Would your organization consider using HP's Stackato PaaS offering?
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It's an interesting more. I believe that HP used to OEM the ActiveState CF stack from Stackato, but then heard that they tried to go it alone, and now Stackato is back. Will be interesting to see how HP works within the CF Foundation and what levels of contributions they make back to core projects. 
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