The Hadoop wars, HP cloud(s) and IBM’s big win

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If you are confused about Hewlett-Packard’s cloud plan of action, this week’s guest will lay it out for you. Bill Hilf, the SVP of Helion product management, makes his second appearance on the show (does that make him our Alec Baldwin?) to talk about HP’s many-clouds-one-management layer strategy.

The lineup? Helion Eucalyptus for private clouds which need Amazon Web Services API compatibility; Helion OpenStack for the rest and [company]HP[/company] Cloud Development Platform (aka Cloud Foundry) for platform as a service.  Oh and there’s HP Public Cloud which I will let him tell you about himself.

But first Derrick Harris and I are all over IBM’s purchase of AlchemyAPI, the cool deep learning startup that does stuff like identifying celebs and wanna-be celebs from their photos. It’s a win for [company]IBM [/company]because all that coolness will be sucked into Watson and expand the API set Watson can parlay for more useful work. (I mean, winning Jeopardy is not really a business model, as IBM Watson exec Mike Rhodin himself has pointed out.) 

At first glance it might seem that a system that can tell the difference between Will Ferrell and Chad Smith might be similarly narrow, but after consideration you can see how that fine-grained, self-teaching technology could find broader uses.

AlchemyAPI CEO Elliot Turner and IBM Watson sales chief Stephen Gold shared the stage at Structure Data last year. Who knows what deals might be spawned at this year’s event?


Also we’re happy to follow the escalating smack talk in the Hadoop arena as Cloudera CEO Tom Reilly this week declared victory over the new [company]Hortonworks[/company]-IBM-Pivotal-backed Open Data Platform effort which we’re now fondly referring to as the ABC or “Anyone But Cloudera” alliance.

It’s a lively show so have a listen and (hopefully) enjoy.


Hosts: Barb Darrow, Derrick Harris and Jonathan Vanian

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Mark Cuban on net neutrality: the FCC can’t protect competition. 

Microsoft’s machine learning guru on why data matters sooooo much 

No, you don’t need a ton of data to do deep learning 

VMware wants all those cloud workloads “marooned” in AWS

Don’t like your cloud vendor? Wait a second.




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 reportedly mulling purchase of Aruba Networks

Well, it’s been a while since Hewlett-Packard made a really big acquisition but it sounds like the IT giant is shaking off the post-Autonomy jitters: it’s weighing a purchase of Aruba Networks, according to Bloomberg.

[company]Aruba Networks[/company], Sunnyvale, Calif.,  provides Wi-Fi access gear at big indoor and outdoor venues — malls, hotels, university campuses,  conference centers etc.

The move would give [company]HP[/company], which already offers its own “converged campus networking” gear, a bigger footprint in wireless mobile, a hot market, that could grow even hotter as more businesses and consumers use Wi-Fi to take some of the pressure off overloaded cellular networks. This acquisition would be reminiscent of Cisco’s purchase of Meraki a little over two years ago for $1.2 billion.

Aruba is one of the leaders in enterprise Wi-Fi so an HP purchase would give it more ammo to go after rival [company]Cisco[/company] in the WLAN market, according to Gigaom’s Kevin Fitchard.

Aruba Networks has a market cap of about $2.42 billion and trailing-twelve month revenue of $745 million. HP had no comment on the report; Aruba Networks has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Aruba shares rose on the report — they were up 22 percent at one point Wednesday while HP shares fell about 10 percent. Since HP’s controversial $11 billion buy of Autonomy in 2011, CEO Meg Whitman has said the company will look at smaller, more targeted acquisition targets; she also noted on this week’s first quarter earnings call that HP was looking to grow its networking business..

ARUN Price Chart

ARUN Price data by YCharts

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.

Next up from the Obama Administration: A new cybersecurity agency

If you don’t think threats to private data are a problem, you’re not paying attention. Breaches occur seemingly by the day, although we often don’t always hear about them in real time as companies (Sony, Anthem, JPMorgan Chase) and government agencies (the unsecured White House network) scramble to patch their systems.

Now the Obama Administration is poised to create a new agency — the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center — to fight back, according to the Washington Post. Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s assistant homeland security and counterterrorism advisor, will announce the news later Tuesday.

This is not the first time in recent history that world events have prompted a new agency. The 9/11 attacks spurred the creation of National Counterterrorism Center, for example.

Everyone is scrambling to deal with these threats. Of course the creation of another organization will spark discussion about whether we need yet another level of bureaucracy to deal with a problem. After all, silos of information held by different agencies are often blamed for security snafus.

I usually don’t quote from any of the myriad ambulance-chasing pitches that come in on stories like this, but this emailed statement attributed to Jeff Williams, CTO of Contrast Security, summed up the decentralized data problem pretty well:

How will the new center work with DHS, DISA, NSA, CIA, FBI … all of whom have some responsibility for cybersecurity.  In principle, having a single “belly button” is a nice idea.  But in reality, it’s just one more agency with cybersecurity responsibility.

But the problem is obviously also a private sector opportunity and tech companies are snatching up security expertise. The latest example being yesterday’s news that [company]Hewlett-Packard[/company] is buying encryption specialist Voltage Security. Last summer, FireEye bought Mandiant, a high-flying cyber forensics company, for $1 billion.

This story was updated at 11:08 a.m. PST with an additional quote.

HP’s Whitman snagged $19M+ in compensation last year

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman got a pretty good pay boost last year, receiving more than $19.5 million in total compensation for fiscal 2014, ending October 31. That’s $2 million more than she got the previous year, according to HP’s just-released proxy.

Almost all of the pay package came in the form of stock and options — her salary for the period was $1.5 million. (Before 2014 she took $1 in annual salary but still logged more than $15 million in total compensation both years.) See the chart below for details on compensation HP’s highest-paid execs.

HP summary compensation table for FY 2014

HP summary compensation table for FY 2014


Whitman is taking [company]HP[/company] through what she has called a “multi-year” transition which, as of November, will include a break up into two companies — an enterprise entity (HP Enterprise) focusing on cloud and associated software and hardware; and a printer-and-PC entity (HP Co.).

The news comes a week after the [company]IBM[/company] proxy showed Ginni Rometty got a $3.6 million bonus for last year, and could get total compensation of more than $13 million total for the current fiscal year.

Both CEOs are leading legacy IT giants into a new era, and have suffered major bumps along the way in the form of wide-spread layoffs and other downsizing moves. No one said either job would be easy, but the optics of these two CEOs getting richer while thousands of employees lose their jobs is still striking.