HP fine-tunes its multi-cloud pitch

It must be really interesting to work at Hewlett-Packard these days. Not only is the company breaking itself in half, it’s making multi-billion-dollar acquisitions and it’s balancing an array of cloud offerings. Oh, and it just shook up cloud management, with Marten Mickos turning key responsibilities over to three other execs, including Bill Hilf,  SVP of HP Helion product management.

As of now, [company]HP[/company] is fielding two private cloud frameworks. Eucalyptus (or, as reported last week, Helion Eucalyptus) is for people who want compatibility with Amazon Web Services APIs. Helion OpenStack is apparently for everyone else.

These two offerings got point upgrades this week. Helion OpenStack 1.1, for example, features better high-availability features, and better support for running Windows workloads (with Microsoft backstopping HP’s own support.) Helion Eucalyptus 4.1 gets an “AWS CloudFormation compatible service” to make it easier for customers to move orchestration templates from AWS to HP Helion clouds without rewriting or a ton of tweaking. And Helion Development Environment (aka HP’s version of the Cloud Foundry Platform as a Service) gets better logging, more dashboards to track usage quotas and system patches.

Bill Hilf, SVP of Helion Cloud product management for HP.

Bill Hilf, SVP of Helion Cloud product management for HP.

No AWS APIs for OpenStack

HP will not add AWS API compatibility to Helion Openstack, Hilf said in an interview Tuesday. Instead, he said, the company will offer Cloud Service Automation atop the various clouds — Helion Eucalyptus, Helion OpenStack, [company]Amazon[/company] Web Services, [company]Microsoft[/company] Azure, [company]VMware[/company] — that will give users the proverbial “one pane of glass” to manage them all.

As is usually the case, the rationale cited was customer feedback. “We sat in focus groups and customers said they didn’t want [AWS] S3 APIs embedded in OpenStack. They wanted an OpenStack cloud and an AWS-compatible cloud and a VMware-based cloud and to be able to move stuff between them,” Hilf said.

“So instead of burning huge time and resources in community debates, we decided, why not just let them build those different clouds and manage them all across the top?”

A public cloud, but not an AWS rival

[company]HP[/company] continues to offer public cloud, but the positioning of that has definitely changed. Its product was once positioned (a year or so ago) as an enterprise-worthy public cloud to compete directly with Amazon Web Services, but that’s no longer the sales pitch.

“We are not building a general-purpose cloud at that scale for any type of workload,” Hilf said. “We are focused on building private, managed clouds that can interoperate. We do have public cloud but we’re not aiming to compete with the big three. We want to interoperate with them.”

Sooooo, what’s new with HP’s cloud strategy?

Look! Hewlett-Packard is doing something with Eucalyptus after all, at least according to a new web page touting HP Helion Eucalyptus, the “Open. Agile. Secure AWS-compatible private cloud.”

HP bought Eucalyptus in September, put that company’s CEO, Marten Mickos, in charge of the overall HP cloud business and things went pretty quiet. Until this week, when I reported that Mickos was ceding his leadership role and the aforementioned page appeared.

An [company]HP[/company] spokesman confirmed that it is a new page, and is “fully in line” with HP’s hybrid cloud push and previous pledge to support AWS customers. Most of the page’s links route back to the original Eucalyptus web site.

I still have so many questions.  Will HP’s OpenStack-based Helion private cloud also offer AWS API compatibility?  HP pulled planned support for those APIs from its public cloud two years ago. Will it reverse that course?

And most intriguingly, will HP — which is a long-time and sometimes irritated Microsoft partner — decide to de-emphasize its own public cloud aspirations and instead throw in more fully with [company]Microsoft[/company] Azure? Hey, anything is possible.


HP reorgs cloud biz as Marten Mickos cedes key responsibilities

Marten Mickos, the former Eucalyptus CEO who became HP’s top cloud guy in September when HP bought Eucalyptus, is turning over key responsibilities to three other HP executives, according to an internal email message viewed by Gigaom.

Mickos, who carried the title of senior vice president and general manager of [company]HP[/company] cloud, will now focus on “customer engagement and advocacy,” according to email he sent to staff on Monday. HP had no comment for this story; the company is slated to announce its first quarter earnings on Tuesday.

As for day-to-day cloud operations, Bill Hilf will take on product strategy, Kerry Bailey will lead sales, and Mark Interrante will head up engineering. And this triumvirate will also work with [company]HP[/company] CTO Martin Fink, according to the memo.

In addition, Ning Wang who was CFO at Eucalyptus before moving on to HP, is leaving her job in cloud operations to take on another as-yet-unnamed role.

Mickos used to position Eucalyptus as an alternative/competitor to OpenStack, although that stance softened last year.

What’s happening now looks like the HP-ization of Eucalpytus, a company whose claim to fame was offering a private cloud that supported key Amazon Web Services APIs.

Given those roots, it remains unclear just how much HP Helion will carry over that AWS API support. Before buying Eucalyptus, HP said it was pulling that support from its public cloud.

It also bears mentioning that in late January, HP included Mickos on the list of key execs that would be part of the HP Enterprise entity once the company breaks itself into two parts.

Some have wondered how long Mickos would stick around at HP. He was also CEO of MySQL and helped sell that company to Sun Microsystems in 2008 and left the company a year later.

Note: This story was updated at 6:08 a.m. PST on February 24 to add more context on Eucalyptus positioning.

Here’s a new “drop-in” EC2 API for OpenStackers who want it

Many news cycles have been burned on the debate over whether OpenStack-based cloud providers should or need to support the major Amazon Web Services APIs.

Cloudscaling and its co-founder Randy Bias have long advocated that such support is critical to the success of OpenStack and promised Cloudscaling support for [company]Amazon[/company] elastic compute cloud (EC2) APIs. AWS, after all, is by far the market leader in the public cloud arena.

As of this week, Cloudscaling, now part of [company]EMC[/company], has made available a “drop-in” replacement for the existing OpenStack Nova EC2 API. Nova, OpenStack’s compute module, already offered a degree of EC2 API compatibility that a vendor could expose, or not, in its own cloud offering.

Rackspace notably chose not to expose it. [company]Hewlett-Packard[/company] at first opted to support the EC2 API, then reversed course in late 2013 — but within a year bought Eucalyptus, a provider of private cloud technology noted for its AWS API support. And VMware’s cloud chief Bill Fathers made it pretty clear on the recent Structure podcast that he doesn’t give a fig about supporting AWS APIs.

Bias, now VP of technology at EMC, is unwavering in his belief that AWS API support will strengthen OpenStack’s chances of success in the market. Cloudscaling also has promised support for key Google Compute Platform APIs.

Per Bias’ blog post:

I’ll reiterate again, since folks still sometimes get confused, I’m not advocating dropping the OpenStack APIs in favor of AWS.  I’m advocating embracing the AWS APIs, making them a first class citizen, and viewing AWS as a partner, not an enemy.  A partner in making cloud big for everyone.

His plan is to improve upon the existing Nova EC2 API — actually build it from scratch — and ask the community to test it out and support it. His rationale? People are using Amazon’s cloud and OpenStack needs to attract those people.

Bias used a chart from the November OpenStack user survey (which had 669 respondents) to illustrate his point. Nearly half of users surveyed use the EC2 compatibility API in production, 38 percent use it in development/quality assurance and 38 percent use it in proof-of-concept projects. By contrast, just four percent said they used the Open Cloud Computing Interface in production, one percent in dev/QA and seven percent in proof of concept trials.

Compatibility APIs

If you want the back story of the great API kerfuffle, check out this YouTube video of a debate between Bias, Mirantis co-founder Boris Renski and others.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7H5zFWUSVI]

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