HP unveils Converged Cloud framework

CloudsHP Tuesday morning introduced its Converged Cloud framework, an effort to unite its cloud-focused infrastructure and services with its long-promised (and soon to debut) public cloud offerings.

Frances Guida, manager of cloud solutions and infrastructure at HP, said that a unified framework for defining and managing cloud, whether it’s public, private or hybrid, is key to avoid falling into the same “IT sprawl” problems that defined the client/server era. If not done well, “cloud could make the IT environment even more challenging to manage,” Guida warned.

The framework covers the company’s existing CloudSystems servers and cloud-building systems, as well as networking offerings, and for the first time, includes public cloud offerings.

The Converged Cloud approach builds on HP’s data centre mantra of converged infrastructure, and adds converged management and security, as well as turning to the OpenStack family of open source cloud software tools to provide what Guida described as a “seamless experience.”

Among the feature announcements, the company introduced “Cloud Maps” for its CloudSystems servers, essentially a series of pre-packaged templates for popular applications, allowing cloud applications to be spun up in minutes.

The company also announced Service Virtualization 2.0 software for development environments, and on the networking side, Virtual Application Networks under its FlexNetwork architecture, which promises to help maintain service levels. HP also introduced two new networking services, addressing virtual network protection and optimization for the cloud.

“CloudSystems is one of the key things we’ll be delivering to our channel partners so they can take advantage of cloud maps, the networking advancements, and all of the technology to help with service virtualization,” Guida said. “Then we are, over time, enabling our partners to be resellers of other cloud services from HP.”

On the public cloud side, HP has put up the public beta of its first services at HPcloud.com. The first offerings (including compute instance on demand and object storage) have been in private beta since September, and represent the vendor’s first foray into direct competition with services like Amazon’s E3 and Microsoft’s Azure. “This is where you swipe your credit card and get services from HP,” Guida said.

The HP Cloud Services will go live on May 10, the company said.

Other public cloud services are on the way, including three more (content delivery network, block-level storage, and MySQL-based database) that move into private beta as the first services go public.

Guida said that in the near future, HP would open up its public cloud services to the channel, allowing HP partners to “act as a distribution channel” for the services in a yet-to-launch (but hinted at two month’s ago at HP’s Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas) overall cloud partner program.

Finally, Guida said there’s a third front for the company’s solution providers in the cloud – using the company’s infrastructure (including CloudSystems) to stand up their own cloud services. It’s an evolution that Guida said many channel partners are eyeing seriously, including veteran solution provider SHI, which has rolled out its own cloud services for its customers on HP gear.

“The investments [partners are] making in things like cloud centres of excellence are the best way to engage HP in this space, and we’ll continue to roll out new programs and opportunities,” Guida said. “We’ve made tremendous progress on delivering this cloud-building environment, now we’re bringing that together with the services, bringing in partners and an ecosystem that will drive the next evolution of the cloud market.”