HP Cautious About How It Approaches Cloud Services, Infrastructure

UPDATED: After IBM establishes its own cloud computing development and marketing strategy, Hewlett-Packard indicates that there's still a lot of work to do to make cloud computing systems work dependably and securely-much more than is apparent from media coverage.

SAN FRANCISCO-One day after IBM established its cloud computing development and marketing strategy by instituting a new division and spotlighting a key networking partnership, longtime nemesis Hewlett-Packard made darn sure that it got some face time to explain its stance on this important new market.
HP told a group of journalists and analysts here Feb. 10 that the cloud computing structure is certainly viable and an important trend heading into the second decade of the new century. But it also indicated that there's still a lot of work to do to make these systems work dependably and securely-much more than is apparent from media coverage.
"See this diagram?" said HP CTO and Vice President of Cloud Services Strategy Russ Daniels, as he drew a series of overlapping circles on the chalkboard. "These are systems that overlap but don't fundamentally work well together. They're all from different companies [and] time frames and being run in different levels of quality. This is the way the world works now."
Drawing a series of circles, each inside the next, resembling a target, he continued, "Now see this one; here is where we want to go at HP. We want to line up all these systems according to open standards and best practices. This is the way we will get to ubiquitous computing, on-demand and dependable, for whatever business needs we have," Daniels said.
HP has shied away from the generalized term "cloud computing" since it began being used regularly in fall 2006, when Amazon.com instituted its cloud services.
"There's a reason we haven't been referring to the term 'cloud computing' all that much [in the past]," an HP marketing executive said. "We've been calling this 'adaptive infrastructure' all this time, because that's what our clients understand. 'Cloud computing' is still an unclear concept to many people, and it's still in evolution. We are at the forefront of this, but we are also realistic about how it's going to be implemented."
For the record, cloud computing, also called utility computing, serves up computing power, data storage or applications from one data center location over a grid to thousands or millions of users on a subscription basis. This general kind of cloud-for example, services provided online such as Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), Google Apps and Salesforce.com-is known as a "public" cloud, because any business or individual can subscribe.
Systems like this that exist inside a firewall are called private clouds. Both IBM and HP are working on software and services that will connect these types of systems to work seamlessly in getting business done via the Internet.
Daniels, the former CTO of HP's software division, is the one running HP's cloud systems development; IBM has the newly appointed Erich Clementi in the same capacity, with Kristof Kloeckner as the new CTO. Clementi reports directly to CEO Sam Palmisano, while Daniels reports to HP CTO Shane Robison.
This very high-level corporate attention is a key indicator of how vital this market is, and is going to become, to these two companies and to the worldwide IT industry.
"For IBM to create another division specifically aimed at anything-hey, now that's a big deal," one analyst told eWEEK. "This company doesn't do that every day."
Nor does HP.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...