HP Invests $1B in OpenStack Cloud, Rebrands Cloud OS as Helion

Hewlett-Packard renews its OpenStack commitment with a $1 billion, two-year investment in R&D and its new Helion cloud platform initiative.

Hewlett-Packard is reaffirming its strong commitment to the open-source OpenStack cloud platform today, with a $1 billion, two-year investment in research and development and a new Helion cloud platform initiative.

Helion is the new brand name for HP's OpenStack efforts and includes a full OpenStack distribution that will have both community and commercial editions. Additionally, HP is building its own platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technology, dubbed the Helion Developer Platform, that is based on the open-source Cloud Foundry platform. Rounding out HP's Helion initiatives are professional services to help enterprises get up and running with the cloud as well as a legal indemnification program.

HP is no stranger to OpenStack and has built multiple OpenStack technology platforms in recent years. HP first publicly acknowledged that it was working on OpenStack technology in July 2011 to help power the HP public cloud. HP is a member of the OpenStack Foundation and has consistently been a top code contributor in recent years.

In December 2013, HP announced Cloud OS as an HP enhanced version of the open source OpenStack platform. The Cloud OS effort is now largely being integrated and extended as part of HP Helion.

"Cloud OS now goes away," Kerry Bailey, senior vice president of sales at HP, told eWEEK. "Cloud OS was a sandbox that we were using to build all of our cloud products, including CloudSystem 8."

CloudSystem is HP's existing portfolio of on-premises and hybrid cloud computing technologies. Bailey explained that CloudSystem's moving forward will be based on the HP Helion OpenStack release.

"Helion is an umbrella brand across all of our cloud portfolio," Bailey said.

Helion is the scientific name for a doubly charged positive helium ion, said Bailey, adding that the use of the term "cloud" eventually needs to go away.

"Not that a brand like Helion will replace the word 'cloud,' but we need to begin to think beyond cloud and what these business solutions do," Bailey said. "We need to rise above the whole cloud hype that is pervasive across our whole industry."


The HP Helion OpenStack distribution is based on the recent Icehouse release. Icehouse, which debuted on April 17, includes a new database-as-a-service project called Trove. HP is one of the leaders of the Trove project and helped get it started under the name Project Red Dwarf in 2011.

OpenStack as a platform needs to run on top of an operating system. For HP Helion, that operating system is Linux.

HP is not partnering with any specific Linux distribution vendor, but rather is using its own expertise to build a Linux distribution as the operating system layer for Helion, Bailey said.

HP has no shortage of expertise when it comes to OpenStack development overall. During the OpenStack Havana release cycle in 2013, HP Distinguished Engineer Monty Taylor was identified as the top open-source OpenStack cloud developer in the world, based on the volume of code commits.

Helion will be a competitive offering to OpenStack distributions from Linux vendors, including SUSE and Red Hat, both of which also partner with HP for server initiatives.

HP will be going after Red Hat in the marketplace, Bailey said. "From a Red Hat perspective, we're going directly at them on this one," he said. "I'm not sure what we'll have from an upgrade perspective."

Bailey does see HP as having a specific competitive differentiation for Helion, based on the experience of running OpenStack in production. "Our three years of running a public cloud on OpenStack have been hard," Bailey said. "We have a very operational background that we bring to OpenStack, and we think cloud means you have to have end-to-end technology and you have to have choice."

$1 Billion Investment

As part of the HP Helion initiative, the company is pledging to invest $1 billion over the next two years. The money does not include data center build-out activities, either, Bailey said.

"This is HP's single largest investment this year," he said. "With this billion dollars, we're not going off to build 10 more data centers around the world; this is really about research and development, product engineering, professional services and go-to-market activities."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.