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HP to retreat from public cloud market, six months after denying exit plans

Hewlett-Packard announces further revision to its cloud strategy that will see it throw its weight behind its private and hybrid product portfolio

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is calling time on its public cloud service, six months after denying it was leaving the market because it could not compete against the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google and Microsoft.

The company confirmed the forthcoming closure of its HP Helion Public Cloud offering on 31 January 2015 in a blog post by Bill Hilf, the senior vice-president and general manager of HP cloud.

Rather than provide its own public cloud infrastructure, the company said it will partner with other providers operating in this space so that its customers can adopt a hybrid approach to IT consumption.

The company had previously spoken publicly about the benefits of using an OpenStack-based infrastructure to underpin both its private and public cloud environments, as it means enterprises do not have to do too much tinkering when it comes to moving workloads between clouds.

Since HP acquired self-service cloud platform Eucalyptus in September 2014, the firm has rolled out technologies to help make it easier for users to manage workloads in the AWS cloud too.

To this end, finding ways to help the enterprise link their HP investments to other public cloud providers is the strategy the firm is now pursuing, the blog post confirmed. 

 “To support this model, we will continue to aggressively grow our partner ecosystem and integrate different public cloud environments. To enable this flexibility, we are helping customers build cloud-portable applications based on HP Helion Openstack and the HP Development Platform,” the blog post stated.

“For customers who want access to existing large-scale public cloud providers, we have added greater support for Amazon Web Services as part of our hybrid delivery with HP Helion Eucalyptus, and we have worked with Microsoft to support Office 365 and Azure.”

Furthermore, the company said it will re-double its efforts in courting the private and managed cloud market, and – as such – will continue its support for the HP Helion Openstack platform.

“We have made the decision to double-down on our private and managed cloud capabilities. For cloud-enabling software and systems, we will continue to innovate and invest in our HP Helion OpenStack platform. On the cloud services side, we will focus our resources on our managed and virtual cloud offerings,” the blog post continued.

HP’s public cloud U-turn

The announcement is a significant U-turn for HP, after Hilf went on record earlier in 2015 to restate the firm’s commitment to its public cloud platform, as part of its wider hybrid strategy.

This was after comments made by Hilf were published in the New York Times that appeared to suggest the firm was giving up trying to compete with Amazon, Google and Microsoft in the public cloud.

In a statement to Computer Weekly in April 2015, a spokesperson for the firm denied the company was throwing in the towel on its public cloud ambitions.

“HP is not leaving the public cloud market. We run the largest OpenStack technology-based public cloud in the US. This has to do with not competing head-to-head with the big public cloud players.”

According to Synergy Research Group’s second quarter cloud infrastructure equipment market tracker, HP is leading the way when it comes to selling the hardware that underpins private cloud environments, followed by Cisco, Microsoft, IBM and Dell.

So, HP’s decision to focus its efforts in this area makes sense, particularly given the hold AWS has on infrastructure as a service (IaaS), which has seen several of its competitors either call it quits or reposition their offerings.

A good example of this is Rackspace, which decided to duck out of being a pure-play IaaS provider in 2014 to focus on providing managed services to its customers.

A statement on the HP Helion Cloud web page confirms the service has ceased sign-ups for new customers, but there is no further information about what the options are for users that have entrusted the service with their data.

Computer Weekly contacted HP for clarification on this point, and was told HP is currently in throes of contacting all affected customers to guide them on what their next steps should be. .................................................

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