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HP opens app fluffing school

Cloud lessons for the enterprise

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What applications running in your data center are suitable for moving from physical to cloudy infrastructure? Do you know how to fluff your apps to run on a cloud? Hewlett-Packard is betting that at least some CIOs out there are willing to pay to have this all sorted out.

You can tell that Hewlett-Packard has arrived at the pinnacle of the IT market, alongside IBM, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and a few others, because it can't just announce one thing at a time. Maybe it is trying to save money, maybe it is trying to weave together a coherent marketing message. (Maybe it is a little of both.) So it is with HP's hodge-podge of announcements today, which are coming out of three different parts of the company – HP Software, HP Technology Services, and HP Enterprise Services. The unifying theme is "application transformation to cloud," but some of the things that HP is going to start selling are only partly cloudy.

The first two things in the HP cornucopia focus on the existing application portfolio inside of a company. A brand new tool, called Application Portfolio Management, sniffs around the corporate network and roots out all of the applications that are running inside of the company, no matter if they are hiding in some old dusty server in the back corner of the data center or a remote office up in Alaska.

The Application Portfolio Management tool, or APM for short, is itself a cloudy service that runs on HP's own iron as it figures out what applications are running inside your company. It discovers the number, location, underlying technology, security level, transaction volume, and cost of applications. (It sounds like a hacker's dream tool, when you put it that way.) The APM tool makes use of an existing business transformation outsourcing tool called Discovery and Dependency Mapping to crawl your apps. This BTO tool has been used in hundreds of HP consulting projects to pare down apps stacks.

Once you have had HP figure out what apps you have, you can then pay for the HP Applications Rationalization service. With this service, HP's service techies take the output from the APM tool and figure out what ones to keep, change, prop up on a cloud as a service, or retire.

"We can help people can figure out that they have 17 different travel expense systems, which they inherited from acquisitions and which they thought were consolidated down to one years ago," Paul Evans, HP's worldwide leader for application transformation, tells El Reg with a laugh.

As part of the hodge-podge, HP is also rolling out Cloud Service Automation 2.0, kicker on the first release that HP rolled out in August 2010 and tweaked a little bit back in January CloudSystem integrated hardware, hypervisor, and management tools for private clouds.

With Cloud Service Automation 2.0, HP is extending the management of cloudy infrastructure and applications that run atop it to including bursting out to public clouds, such as Amazon's EC2 public cloud, as well as on CloudSystem setups running inside the corporate firewall. CSA 2.0 also includes a library of over 4,000 predefined workflows for firing up third-party applications on the BladeSystem Matrix blade servers that underpin the CloudSystem stack.

CSA 2.0 can burst to other private clouds inside your firewall and now includes service metering, which will allow for IT departments to collect usage data and generate bills for the services and infrastructure that end users, departments, and divisions use. You can buy CSA 2.0 as a standalone product or as part of a CloudSystem, but to get the most benefit, it is tuned to the HP infrastructure.

HP says that it can help customers mash up the CSA 2.0 software with its application lifecycle management software and quality management services to create a private cloud for application development and testing riding atop the CloudSystem. HP also is peddling services for help customers figure out where CSA 2.0 can be woven into their IT as well as a quickstart service that has HP techies come in and set it all up - for a fee, of course.

Further on the cloudy front, HP is offering to create a private cloud, based on its own servers and storage but running in your data center, on which you can port your Microsoft Exchange Server email and groupware systems. Evans says that HP Services will create a cloud on non-HP iron if you really want it, but the idea is to take HP's stuff, which the company knows best.

HP is also selling Microsoft Dynamics customer relationship management as a service, but not running inside of your data center but rather on a shared, multitenant cloud inside of HP's data centers. Pricing for the HP Enterprise Cloud Services for Microsoft Dynamics CRM (catchy name, eh?) is based on the number of named users accessing the service and the hardware configuration, customization, and integration customers need for existing applications.

Finally, HP is also launching a Windows XP-to-Windows 7 conversion service in the hodge-podge of application transformation products announced today. HP Services has set up a factory to create the Application Transformation Services for Client Computing, which the company has used to help a few large customers make the jump to Windows 7. HP's techies take snapshots of your Windows 7 PCs back to the labs and analyze them, looking for the gotchas ahead of time and telling you what you need to do before you make the jump. Once that is all set up, HP's service techs figure out what customizations you want on your Windows 7 PCs and perform the migration for you as a service.

As usual, pricing for these HP products and services was not provided. The Microsoft Exchange private cloud and Windows XP porting service will be available in May. All of the other stuff is available now. ®

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