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Why OpenStack might hurt HP Helion adoption

While HP Helion has its place in the enterprise, its use of open source technology, including OpenStack, could ultimately hamper its adoption.

The cloud computing market is inundated with vendor offerings -- from public and private cloud services to hybrid cloud. And last May, Hewlett-Packard made a splash with its release of HP Helion, an OpenStack-based cloud platform that uses enterprise services to create public, private and managed cloud in a hybrid environment. So, now almost one year later, is HP Helion a viable cloud option?

Helion is a complete platform that consists of several parts: OpenStack, HP Helion OpenStack Community distribution for private cloud, HP Helion Development Platform, HP Helion Public Cloud, HP CloudSystem for hybrid cloud management, and HP Eucalyptus.

Eucalyptus -- essentially a private cloud version of Amazon Web Services (AWS) -- is especially interesting, as HP now sells Eucalyptus as a sub-system that provides AWS compatibility. The assumption is HP will need to operate with the AWS public cloud.

Trouble in HP's OpenStack paradise?

At the heart of Helion is OpenStack. Several Helion products and components use OpenStack's open source cloud technology, along with Cloud Foundry, as their foundation. While the open source angle worked well a few years ago, the major public cloud providers -- namely, AWS, Microsoft and Google -- haven't embraced the technology.

Meanwhile, interest is shifting to these top three public cloud providers, leaving OpenStack, largely, for private cloud implementations. Rackspace, which helped create OpenStack, has since moved from a public cloud to a managed services provider (MSP) model. But IBM, among a few others, remains on the OpenStack bandwagon.

Standardizing on Cloud Foundry could also cause trouble for HP. While Cloud Foundry has indeed fostered an open source community, recent assertions suggest it may not be as open as some vendors would like. Some also take issue with the Cloud Foundry bylaws, especially the fact that Pivotal, EMC and VMware are each allocated a seat on the board, and are treated independently. In addition, other members can't have their affiliates join. These guidelines can be a concern for those looking to standardize on Cloud Foundry.

The good news for HP Helion

Despite its ties to OpenStack and Cloud Foundry, HP Helion public cloud is enterprise-grade. It offers on-demand, pay-as-you-go cloud services for computing and storage infrastructure. HP also differentiates its cloud strategy with a focus on security, global availability and consistency. In short, the company is trying to build an AWS-like cloud, specifically targeting its enterprise customers.

Additionally, rather than acting as a general-purpose public cloud, HP Helion is turn-key and orientated around specific use cases and industries -- such as public sector. HP hopes to hang its hat on this strategy.

Overall, HP is not the cloud computing "also-ran" that it was in the past. Despite its late start in the market, HP's strategy is much clearer. However, the larger public cloud providers are spending more money to build capabilities that HP may not be able to match.

As a result, it's likely that Helion will be limited to existing HP customers, or those that include Helion in today's public cloud bakeoffs.

About the author:
David "Dave" S. Linthicum is senior vice president of Cloud Techn ology Partners and an internationally recognized cloud industry expert and thought leader. He is the author or co-author of 13 books on computing, including the best-selling
Enterprise Application Integration. Linthicum keynotes at many leading technology conferences on cloud computing, SOA, enterprise application integration and enterprise architecture.

His latest book is Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise: A Step-by-Step Guide. His industry experience includes tenures as chief technology officer and CEO of several successful software companies and upper-level management positions in Fortune 100 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including the University of Virginia, Arizona State University and the University of Wisconsin.

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