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Don't mention Azure

HP is already down to deliver a cloud powered by Microsoft's Azure, while also promising to stuff Azure into a box for sale to customers to slot into their data centers.

Microsoft said that HP - along with Dell and Fujitsu - would deliver Azure clouds after first testing its compute and storage framework in their data centers. That was in July 2010 and appliances promised for the end of the year. But, so far, HP, Dell, and Fujitsu Azure appliances are MIA and nobody's saying why.

Apotheker certainly made it sound like HP's cloud would use the long-lost Azure: he said HP's service will support multiple languages, and Azure runs Java and PHP in addition to C# and Visual Basic, thanks to changes by Microsoft to lure non .NET devs away from Amazon.

Asked by The Reg if HP's cloud uses Azure and whether HP might also consider open architectures like OpenStack, Apotheker demurred.

"The technology we will be using for cloud infrastructure is going to be based on a certain number of technologies - let's not go into that right now," he said.

This suggests the Azure-based appliance and the Azure service are dead, HP will use different cloud architectures, or HP has something completely different in mind.

He continued that his company's relationship with Microsoft was - and stop me if you've heard this before - "Strong, is strong and remains strong. There's no change it that."

Asked how HP is going to catch up to cloud leader Amazon, Apotheker said HP's already got the data centers in place to deliver cloud and doesn't need to build out any special data-center facilities. He also staked a claim to HP's "backbone" already running the cloud: he claimed seven out of 10 cloud service providers are HP customers and four our of five search engines run HP.

Servers aside - or what other metric HP's using to measure this claim - it should be noted HP is buying its way in to the cloud. The recent acquisition of big-data specialist Vertitca Systems has allowed it to claim Mozilla, Zynga, Twitter, and big-traffic sites as customers.

Lending credence to the "buy your way in" theory, Apotheker and chief financial officer Cathy Lesjak said that their company plans acquisitions to fill gaps in its cloud software strategy. Lesjak ruled out what she called buying a "legacy" transactional layer - meaning middleware such as IBM's WebSphere, Oracle's WebLogic or Red Hat's JBoss.

Analytics and security are two areas HP's looking at. On the former, they said we should more expect more along the lines of Vertica - HP plans a Vertica-based appliance "very quickly" after the deal closes in the second quarter. "We can leapfrog to where the market is going... Vertica systems indicates where we are heading," Apotheker said.

Lesjak said: "We want to lead through market disruption, not through investment in the old technology stack or the technology of yesterday. We want to invest in the IP that helps customers move to and get value from the cloud." ®

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