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HP talks clouds, diamonds and tiaras

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Comment For HP the "big switch" to cloud computing is a big opportunity but is not really a switch at all.

Here at HP's Software Universe event in Vienna the cloud is mentioned a lot but you can't for a moment think that HP's head is in the clouds. It's not. The company does not believe in Nick Carr's Big Switch premise - that there will be a huge switch-over from customer-operated data centres and that, ultimately, computing services will be delivered across a network as a utility.

"There'll be no big switch," said David Gee, an HP marketing VP for software and solutions. "It's not all or nothing. There'll be convergence." But no wipeout of in-house computing. HP is anticipating a mix of in-premise computing, outsourcing, private and public clouds.

Not everything can become a cloud-delivered service in Gee's view. Some software just doesn't offer itself as a service. A case in point is network management software for equipment you own and operate. We might assume that any software used to manage an in-house resource isn't a good candidate for delivery as a service. But if the in-house resource is itself delivered as a service then you don't need the software to manage it.

Much of HP's software is concerned with managing infrastructure resources and optimising their use. If these resources are delivered as a service then customers would no longer need the HP software. A partial cloud switchover will radically reduce HP's infrastructure software golden goose. Doesn't that mean that, to compensate, HP needs to build out its own cloud data centre infrastructure in order not to be left behind by Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, who are all active in cloud data centre build-outs?

Diamonds in the sand

There is no sign of HP doing this - of it building a world-wide set of interlinked data centres. Tasked with this, Gee said:" I'll say three letters: E, D, S." That big HP services acquisition operates lots of data centres under outsourcing contracts and "it's a good place to learn about cloud delivery".

He says HP has many cloud initiatives under the hood - more than we think. Two thirds of HP's software portfolio is already deliverable as a service. The cloud may look like one thing but we should not be confused. Behind the front, the delivery side of the cloud, there will be a complex infrastructure with lots of layers of hardware and software and many vertical niches.

Gee says HP can go through the cloud to the far side and there will be this whole new developing complex infrastructure for it to play in, for it to manage and optimise. The further back in the cloud you look the more dots there are to connect and manage. HP he says, is being very deliberate about this and it has lots of separate initiatives: "We've got a lot of diamonds in the sand that we'll show up with in a tiara some time soon."

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