HP updates Helion OpenStack in latest hybrid cloud push

Hardware giant follows up earlier open-source cloud pledge with product updates to speed user adoption of hybrid IT

HP has reinforced its commitment to the hybrid IT delivery model with the release of an update to its enterprise-focused, Openstack-based Helion cloud platform.

The Helion portfolio was unveiled by HP with much fanfare in May 2014, along with its pledge to invest $1bn over the next two years in open source-based cloud technologies and hybrid IT offerings, such as open-source cloud platform OpenStack.

This resulted in the creation of an HP Helion-branded version of OpenStack, which has now been updated to include a raft of security, automation and software-defined storage enhancements.

HP Helion Europe cloud category manager Paul Morgan said the company anticipates rolling out similar updates to the platform every six months to capitalise on the growing interest it claims to be seeing in its take on OpenStack.

“We’ve seen a really strong interest from hosting providers looking to base their environment on open source moving forward and I think the reason why is because we’re offering an HP-hardened version of OpenStack with a tonne of value-add on top of the standard offering," he said.

“HP is the insurance policy for our customers. They know there is the one hand to shake for support, so if anything goes wrong, they just have to phone HP.”

Cloud buyers are becoming increasingly savvy about the risks of supplier lock-in and how open-source technologies can help them avoid it. However, OpenStack is still viewed as an unknown quantity by some, which is why many are opting for HP’s version of it, added Morgan.

“It’s the DNA now of our cloud strategy and our cloud portfolio, and users look to us because they’re not OpenStack-savvy," he said. "What we’re able to bring to the table is our consulting and professional service teams who have a tonne of experience.”

Helion-branded Eucalyptus product announced

As well as the HP Helion OpenStack 1.1 release, the company has also announced details of its first Helion-branded Eucalyptus product.

The hardware giant acquired open-source software supplier Eucalyptus in September 2014 as part of its previously mentioned push to position itself as a purveyor of non-proprietary, off-premise offerings.

The company’s technology was traditionally used to build a self-service private cloud platform for the test and development of applications that are compatible with Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) offerings.

This would allow users to move apps and workloads between their Eucalyptus environment and the AWS public cloud in line with their business needs, and – in turn – make use of a hybrid cloud environment. 

Read more about HP's hybrid cloud plans

HP Helion Eucalyptus 4.1 is designed to build on this functionality by introducing a web browser-based management feature to make it easier for users to modify, create and delete AWS Simple Storage Service object storage resources.

Service director at IT market watcher Quocirca, Clive Longbottom, said the latter announcement is a sure sign that HP appreciates how important automation is to cloud users.

However, it remains to be seen if its declarations of support for OpenStack and commitment to helping customers avoid supplier lock-in are all they seem.

“Helion remains a not completely standard version of OpenStack and we still have worries as to whether this ‘alternative to public cloud lock-in’ is just a way to move an organisation to ‘Helion cloud lock-in’,” said Longbottom.

HP isn’t the only supplier touting its own brand of OpenStack technology, he added, as Dell, Cisco and IBM also have their own. As a result, frequent updates may not be enough to make users opt for its version over what its competitors can offer.

“HP needs to message the new platform well – not just in technical terms, but as to what the Helion 1.1 ecosystem offers as business value," said Longbottom. "Only then will we see if HP can make this really work.”

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