HP Adds Enterprise Features to Helion OpenStack Cloud Platform

The latest version, based on the Kilo OpenStack distribution, includes improved lifecycle management, networking and security.

cloud computing

Hewlett-Packard may be getting out of the public cloud business, but it's not getting out of clouds altogether.

Instead, the company will use the resources that had been spent on its Helion public cloud and put more effort into the work it is doing in helping businesses build private and hybrid cloud environments, according to Jay Jamison, vice president of product marketing.

"It really focuses our HP Helion strategy, which at its core is really about the technology and services that allow customers to adopt private and managed clouds," Jamison told eWEEK. "Customers are looking for a wide variety of options to address their wide variety of needs."

A week after HP officials announced they were shuttering their public cloud on the last day in January, they were at the OpenStack Summit in Tokyo Oct. 28 to announce the availability of the latest version of its Helion OpenStack 2.0 open-source cloud platform that includes new features that make it more enterprise-ready.

The upgraded offering includes improved provisioning and upgrade features, a better administrator interface, enhanced network connectivity options and expanded software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities through a partnership with Nuage Networks.

Helion OpenStack 2.0, which is available now, is based on the Kilo distribution, which had been the latest distribution until Liberty was released earlier this month. That said, HP officials were quick to point out that the company has been a key contributor to OpenStack, including the Liberty release, with 210 employees contributing code to it. Vendors tend to adopt an OpenStack distribution and then add in their own technologies and features, as HP has done with Helion OpenStack 2.0.

"It really delivers a product that enables customers to adopt OpenStack into enterprise deployments with the full support of HP behind it," Jamison said.

It was important for HP to address the demands from businesses for a cloud platform that was enterprise-ready, according to Bill Hilf, senior vice president and general manager of HP's cloud business.

"Enterprise customers typically have thousands of applications, hundreds of vendors, dozens of datacenters," Hilf wrote in a post on the company blog. "They have supporting systems, people and processes to run the technology that powers their businesses. So when customers ask whether HP Helion OpenStack is ready for the enterprise, it's not just about things like NIC bonding or improved configuration management or monitoring at scale, though those are important and delivered in HP Helion OpenStack 2.0. Customers are asking a broader question—is the full force of HP behind HP Helion OpenStack, ready to deliver the enterprise grade value that customers expect from us? Absolutely."

He pointed to not only the increasing maturity of OpenStack—it's in its 12th release—but also the advances HP's made in its own distribution and the support HP throws behind it.

"Our customers don't need just another technology; they need an enterprise-grade partner who can help them adopt new technology successfully," Hilf wrote.

Among the new features are the ability to more easily provision new infrastructure and repurpose existing systems to address scalability issues without impacting availability, and enabling rolling upgrades without downtime. There also is continuous patch management, centralized logging, flexibility in network configuration to connect with existing IT environments and adherence to OpenStack API policies.

In addition, users can create and manage SDNs in a multi-data center environment via integration of HP's Distributed Cloud Networking and Nuage's Virtualized Services Platform.

HP's decision last week to exit the public cloud business came after speculation earlier this year that the company was having trouble competing with the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft's Azure and other providers. Now HP will add greater support to such public cloud firms, Hilf said in a blog post last week addressing the decision.

"Today, our customers are consistently telling us that in order to meet their full spectrum of needs, they want a hybrid combination of efficiently managed traditional IT and private cloud, as well as access to SaaS [software-as-a-service] applications and public cloud capabilities for certain workloads," he wrote. "In addition, they are pushing for delivery of these solutions faster than ever before. With these customer needs in mind, we have made the decision to double-down on our private and managed cloud capabilities."

The decision came just as competitors were making their own cloud moves. Dell and Microsoft unveiled the Dell Hybrid Cloud System for Microsoft, which is designed to address challenges to cloud adoption and make it easier for businesses to embrace the technology. For its part, EMC and VMware announced they are spinning out Virtustream as a hybrid cloud business.