Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Cloud28+ platform was reborn this week. The cloud services federation has steadily grown since it came out of beta in December of last year; but, in the eyes of many, the platform's potenital has been somewhat hindered by its reliance on HP's version of OpenStack. Well, the shackles are now off.
At a partner event in Amsterdam this week, HPE announced that, like a monarch butterfly extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, Cloud28+ Mark II would be fully open, embracing the likes of Microsoft Azure, VMware, Ormuco and Docker.
Xavier Poisson Gouyou Beauchamps, vice president for hybrid IT in EMEA, and the driving force behind the project, said: “The extensions of the Cloud28+ open technology framework we announce ... are a major milestone on our journey to create a single marketplace for enterprise cloud services, providing customers and partners a true multi-cloud experience.”
Made up of independent software vendors, resellers and service providers, Cloud28+ now has some 225 members, 1,000 services on offer and 1,500 end users. The Cloud28+ project has two primary goals: To provide a central platform, which acts as a cloud service library, or catalogue. ISVs can offer end customers and resellers a broader range of applications, expanding their geographic reach. Service providers can mix and match solutions adding value to their offerings; and end customers, in turn, can search for cloud applications based on specific needs, such as workload requirements, geographic proximity and price. It's like G-Cloud, but for everyone.
The second goal is to create a sort-of pan-European collaborative love-fest amongst cloud players. Everyone in the club works together for the greater good, in order to ultimately gain a competitive advantage over… well, everyone that is not in the club. Welcome to the new way of doing business!
While the initiative is being led by HPE, the firm has been careful to distance itself, keen to enforce the notion that it is a ‘community driven’ project. For the past 18 months, Cloud28+ has had an Interim Advisory Committee (IAC) in place, made up of key members. The IAC’s mandate has been to drive future strategy, and their efforts have culminated in v2.0 of the platform, announced this week.
Central to the new and improved platform is the inclusion of an App Centre, which will host Dockerized apps from ISV partners. These can be downloaded and automatically installed at the premises of a service provider or an end customer and deployed into production environments through Docker Datacentre.
"With these latest extensions, we take the step towards an app-store like deployment of enterprise cloud services and broaden the footprint of Cloud28+,” said Khaled Chaar, managing director at the CANCOM subsidiary, PIRONET, and member of the Cloud28+ advisory council. “This increases business opportunities for partners, enhances relevance and usability for customers, and will help realise our overall mission to grow enterprise cloud adoption in Europe.”
In the future, the App Centre will also support non-containerised applications, keeping everything as open and as lovely as possible.
“We’re opening it up because I want to achieve my original vision [for Cloud 28+] that a cloud service can be transported from every single service provider to another service provider, and this will enable that,” Xavier told ComputerWeekly prior to the event.
Alongside the App Centre, members will have access to a new Service Hub, which will allow them to manage their listings and provide analytics dashboards to track marketing and sales efforts.
HPE also announced that following the success of the Interim Advisory Committee, the time was right for a permanent advisory board. The new board will be expanded to 15 members, broken into two committees – technical and marketing. They will take over management of the project, helping to define strategy moving forward.
Show me the money
The sense of community sprit at the Amsterdam event was palpable. HPEs decision to transfer autonomy over to the IAC was a wise one, and speaking to members at the event, it was obvious that there was a real sense of joint-ownership amongst participants. However, members will be acutely aware that drum circles and renditions Kumbaya won’t put food on the table, and so the question becomes whether this digital experiment can truly be monetised.
Tony Limby is director of cloud and data centre for BT Business, and sits on the board of the IAC. He believes that revenue will be the by-product of scale.
“We have been together for almost 24 months, and I think the biggest question we have faced is how do we drive revenue for this community,” Limby said. “And that needs to be from contribution. When we first looked at targets, we were looking at around 10,000 members.”
At the moment, the federation consists of 225 members, a long way off the initial target. But even the 10,000 mark isn’t enough according to Limby.
“We need to be aiming at tens of tens of thousands to take this to the next level.”
Those kind of figures will only be achievable if each of the contributing member categories can find value in platform; and, at the moment at least, its easier to see the upside for some contributors over others. The BT director claims that in order to create that value, Cloud28+ needs to ‘super scale’ its ISV community.
“That community brings the value, which [service providers and resellers] can add to their traditional services that are now being commoditised.”
HPE was keen to promote the benefits of the platform for VARs and emphasised the key role that they would play in the ecosystem.
“When I talk to SMEs, and to enterprises, the real value for the evolution of their IT comes from resellers and VARs,” Xavier said at the event. “If we are able to work together in order that you, as resellers, are not only able to build, but also to consume cloud services in this ecosystem, I promise you, you will expand your business opportunities in new ways.”
Xavier pointed to opportunities on the near horizon in the form initiatives under way as part of European Commission’s High-Performance Computing Strategy.
“There will be a lot of projects around high performance computing,” Professor X told the crowd. “You can expect that there will be tenders, there will be calls for further research. Cloud28 allows you to really build really strong connections, to really participate in all this spending happening now.”
“And it is coming now, so pay attention to it," he added. "It was ignited by the European Commission three weeks ago. If you are only one company, you don’t have chance of winning. If you are able to cover multiple countries, partnering with other [Cloud28+ members], you will be able to compete.”
The Cloud28+ Service Hub, App Onboarding Centre and user interface updates including the improved Service Centre search capabilities will be available on June 7, 2016. The Cloud28+ App Centre and deployment feature will be available later this summer.