HP Cumulonimbus – Verticaly developed Cloud

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I was looking for an image to accompany my Cloud blog and came across the “Cumulonimbus”. Together with the following text I couldn’t resist using it as the starting punchline: “Cumulonimbus clouds (Cb) are much larger and more vertically developed than fair weather cumulus…”

So what do I want to tell you? We have seen and heard about cloud enough. More then enough I guess. Every time another vendor starts another session on clouds we are already running for coffee (or beers if its the last session of the day). I found out why: they all are telling us what we should do in the future, what is the path we are going to follow together without knowing what the endpoint will be? Have trust in the vendors insights … blablabla

Last week I heard a different story at HP Discover. HP showed us where they are now. What can they offer you now. Here are the products, this is how it works and here is how we are going to help you. 

The Matrix:
Until recently we talked about HP BladeSytem Matrix. Rome wasn’t build in a day and so wasn’t the Cloud. The Cloudsystem Matrix now goes way beyond that. Instead of discussing hardware and features we need to start discussing services. This shows for example in the implementation of the “Storage Provisioning Manager“. Here the storage architect can set-up storage templates (array – tier – raid – TP – size – …) give it a chargeback value and set permissions on those templates. The cloud admin can deploy those templates without any storage knowledge.

Another new item in the CloudSystem Matrix is the builtin “burst” capabilities provided by Savvis. Essentially this means your private cloud has endless resources. The big question here remains how to get your data back when you don’t need the burst anymore. This is still a bit unanswered.
A third item HP integraded is a cooperation with “Alcatel-Lucent” that your burst mechanism would choose the right datacentre to burst in according to best availability such as bandwith and latency. This is the part that still has the most questions for me but the idea of it strokes with the entire concept.

Implementation & Best Practices:
To make sure everything is integraded according to best practises HP will provide us with Reference Architectures, Strategy- Consultancy- and Implementation- services and they will continu to invest in labs with other strategic partners (vmware, Microsoft, McAfee, …).
Something I heared before from other vendors is that they do not want to sell people as a product. This means that they still want to keep on focussing on the channel (keep in mind that this is the cheapest sales force for a vendor). The only down side for the current resellers is that the focus will change from hardware box movement to service provider. I quote one speaker: “we can only hope it will still be the same people” wich means: lead, follow or get out of the way 🙂
Will they help us getting there? YES! HP just added 3 new certifications to its tracks: Cloud Architect ASE, Cloud Integrator ASE & Cloud Integrator Master ASE. Last year I noted at an HP conference that they appologized for giving us education on yesterdays products and that they would get this straight this year. So what else did they do? Well, there are 5 new learning solution partners, there are press/self study books that are coming out very soon and last but not least HP is going to school! “HP institute” will go into beta starting this january in several highschools. And in contrast to what other vendors did before (cfr Cisco) HP will provide them with remote labs so that the schools do not need to invest in all latest technology for lab environments. I personally think this is huge! We might finally get proper educated students in the IT market.

Other Services:
There is one other Cloud thing I want to share. During the HP Discover conference we were laughing at the printing people. Who the hell wants to blog about printing. What can your printer do? It can print colors! #LOL. And still HP managed to get my attention. In all new network printers HP added a feature called e-print. This feature registers the printer in a private, public or enterprise section of the HP printing cloud and enables you to print to that printer from any mobile device without the need of installing drivers for each printer. You simply click “print” at your device and you can choose from all printers in your neighbourhood (via gps or a simple search). Think about printing your boarding pass you got by email. Once at the printer, you get the document from the cloud with the passcode you gave it. You can also create a private Enterprise e-print network and print an internal note at the printer in HongKong for example. The consumer edition is free to use! Only downside: there is no “proxy box” available to put in front of existing printers so at this stage it comes down to a nice feature on NEW printers.

To summarize: if I were a hosting provider or a multi-branch SMB and were to buy a new datacentre strategy right now, I ‘d definitly would have a look at CloudSystem Matrix. If it is not that urgent, I might wait another year for SystemCenter 2012 stack and find a convergence between these two. But the Cumulonimbus and its “vertically developed” idea are definitly at its place here.

One thing I neglected to mention and really is important is that HP now knows the meaning of the word OPEN. HP CloudSystem Matrix is vendor independent through the use of OpsWare. This results in an opportunity to implement it in legacy environments and be fully supportive to different hypervisors, operating sytems and hardware. It also keeps you in from vendor lockin in a new solution.
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