Boosting the take-up of cloud services across Europe has been the mission statement of both public sector and commercial organisations for several years now.
From the latter point of view, HP has been actively involved in this since the formal launch of its Cloud 28+ initiative in March 2015, which aims to provide European companies of all sizes with access to a federated catalogue that they can use to buy cloud services.
If you’re thinking this sounds spookily like the UK government’s G-Cloud public sector-focused procurement initiative, you would be right. The key principles are more or less the same, except the use of Cloud 28+ isn’t limited to government departments or local authorities. It’s open to all.
That message – during the two years that HP has been talking up its efforts in this area – doesn’t seem to have reached everyone, though, particularly the providers one would assume would be a good fit for it.
Namely, the members of the G-Cloud community, who are already well-versed in how a setup like Cloud 28+ operates, and what is required to win business through it.
However, several key participants in the government procurement framework have privately expressed misgivings to Ahead In the Clouds about whether HP would welcome their involvement because they don’t use its technologies to underpin their services.
Similarly, some said they weren’t sure how they feel about hawking their cloud wares through an HP-branded catalogue, or if it would mean sharing details of the deals they do through Cloud 28+ with the firm.
The latter has been a long-held concern of cloud resellers, because – once the maker of the service you’re reselling access to knows whose buying it – what’s to stop them from cutting you out and dealing with them direct?
All these points HP seemed intent on addressing during its Cloud 28+ in Action event in Brussels earlier this week, which saw the firm take steps to almost distance itself from the initiative it is supposed to be spearheading.
As such, there were protestations on stage from Xavier Poisson, EMEA vice president of HP Converged Cloud, about how Cloud 28+ belongs to the providers that populate its catalogue, not to HP, and how its future will be influenced by participants.
The attitude seems to be, while HP may have had a hand in inviting people to the Cloud 28+ party, it’s not going to dictate who should be invited, the tunes they should dance to or what food gets served. It’s simply providing a venue and directing people how to get there, before letting everyone get on with enjoying the revelry.
From a governance point of view, it won’t be HP calling the shots. That will be the job of a new, independent Cloud 28+ board who made their debut at the event.
On the topic of billing, the firm made a point of saying users won’t be able to pay for services through Cloud 28+, and that it will – instead – rely on third-parties to handle the payment and settlement side of using the catalogue.
For those worried that being a non-user of HP technologies could preclude them from Cloud 28+, the news wasn’t so good.
As it emerged that providers will have one year from joining Cloud 28+ to ensure the applications they want to sell through the catalogue run on the Helion-flavoured version of OpenStack. A move, HP said, is designed to guard users against the risk of vendor lock-in.
Even so, given the firm spent the majority of the event trying to play down its role in the initiative, it’s a stipulation that might leave an odd taste in the mouth of some would-be participants and users. Especially in light of the uncertainty over just how open vendor-backed versions of OpenStack truly are.
HP said this is an area that could be reviewed later down the line by the Cloud 28+ governance board, but it will be interesting to see (once the initial hype around its launch dies down) if this emerges as turn-off for some potential participants.
Opening up Europe for business
Admittedly, it would be short-sighted of them to dismiss joining Cloud 28+ out of hand on that basis, in light of the opportunities it could potentially open up for them to do business across Europe.
While the European Commission has stopped short of endorsing the initiative, it has acknowledged what Cloud 28+ is trying to do shares some common ground with its vision to create a Digital Single Market (DSM) across Europe, and might be worth paying attention to.
If Cloud 28+ emerges as the preferred method for the enterprise to procure IT, once the preparatory work to deliver the DSM is complete, for example, the Helion OpenStack requirement would pale in significance to the amount of business participants could gain through it.
Measuring the success of Cloud 28+
While Cloud 28+ is still under construction, it’s only right the focus has been on the provider side of things, because – without them – there is no service catalogue.
HP is preparing to go-live with Cloud 28+ in early December at its Discover event in London, and Poisson said the “client-side” of it will become a bigger focus after that, so it’s likely we’ll hear some momentum announcements around end user adoption in the New Year.
But, until there is a sizeable amount of business transacted through the catalogue, or some other form of demonstrable end user interest in it, there will remain a fair few providers who won’t get why its worth their while to join.