Does IBM or HP Lead in Cloud Computing?

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-02-11 Print this article Print

So which of these two IT giants looks like it's further ahead in the cloud computing space at this point?

This is not a simple question to answer, because both companies have long had point products and services that can contribute to building a legitimate cloud system. Only recently have they set up the corporate means to concentrate on finding those resources and delivering them to customers.

It is also safe to say that neither company has very many customers actually buying systems now to build cloud computing-type data centers, thanks to the effect the world economic downturn is having on most IT at the moment.

The more relevant question might be, not which one is further advanced, but how they differ in their approaches to providing goods and services in this genre.

At the moment, it looks like this:

- IBM has a series of nine data centers in strategic locations around the world that are ready and able to provide on-demand cloud applications (financial, scientific and others) for users in short order. It does not have a raft of IT infrastructure-type services like Amazon EC2 or Google Apps currently available, although its Tivoli tools division is working on that kind of delivery.

- HP doesn't appear to have all the networking for these cloud services ready for prime time just yet. It seems to be moving a bit more slowly, asking more tactical questions about how this is all going to play out. Nonetheless, like IBM, it has all the hardware, software and services available now to start a capital investment of this type.

In fact, HP has come to the cloud computing trend through positioning itself as a "one-stop shop" for data center design, construction and implementation.

In summary, the race is on. And between not just IBM and HP, but also Sun Microsystems, Dell, Symantec, EMC and a host of specialized companies that also want in on the action.

Which road map will work best?

Of HP and IBM, do either of them have the right road map? That will be what sets them apart in the marketplace for potential customers to evaluate.

"What surprises me the most about all this is how aggressively both of these companies are moving ahead in an area that really is not fully defined or worked out," virtualization and cloud systems analyst Bernard Golden, CEO of the HyperStratus consultancy, told eWEEK.

"IBM's looking at the cloud like, 'Here's a set of over-arching technologies that will do this [supply the cloud structure],' and they're looking at what it's going to take to have applications that will do that [provide the on-demand services for business]," Golden said. "[While] HP was focusing on issues around applications and making them very scalable, IBM was showing how they have Tivoli [and the Juniper connectivity] already wired to distribute these workloads.

"The question does remain: What profile of workloads? They showed a sort of 'potted' demo, and you have to understand what those apps are doing, and how they're architected. For a certain class of workloads, it looks like they have it wired in. But who really knows?"

Editor's note: This article was updated to clarify the chain of command at HP.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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