Most of the cash in enterprise cloud is unclaimed. HP thinks OpenStack can help it collect

HP is not just a member of the OpenStack Foundation — it’s also a really big contributor. According to Bill Veghte, executive vice president and general manager of HP’s Enterprise Group, the company boasts the most code contributions and the greatest number of project leads for the upcoming Juneau release of the open source cloud computing software.

That might be an important distinction in a foundation that also includes large vendors — and HP (s HPQ) competitors — such as Cisco and IBM, and that is, Veghte claims, “the fast growing open source project in the history of open source.” HP believes that what enterprise tech buyers really want is a cloud experience that’s more hybrid in nature than what VMware or Microsoft want to provide, and that’s based much more in software rather than being tied to a specific vendor’s hardware (which is how Veghte characterized fellow OpenStack member Cisco’s cloud strategy).

And if these companies are about to engage in an enterprise cloud land-grab, there’s a lot of it available. “The percentage of apps or data that’s in the cloud in the enterprise is in the low single digits,” Veghte said at the Gigaom Structure conference on Wednesday.

If OpenStack is the ticket for HP delivering on that hybrid experience, then the deeper it knows the underlying technology, the better products and the better reputation it can build as the go-to OpenStack company. Ultimately, Veghte said, the market will only support a few OpenStack distributions, and companies that stray too far from the open source trunk will spend a lot of resources supporting the delta between where it ends and their software starts.

There is, however, one potentially very big downer to the OpenStack story: NSA spying. Both domestically and globally, the Edward Snowden disclosures about government surveillance have people more leery than ever about deploying cloud infrastructure or really putting anything outside their firewalls. China, Veghte noted, is building out infrastructure at unprecedented rates, and vendors like HP are now having to address spying concerns as a part of their engagements with potential customer.

“It’s just a bummer,” he said.

Photo by Jakub Mosur

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