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HP plugs CloudSystem into Amazon and other heavens

Where blades go to die

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Hewlett-Packard is expanding its CloudSystem private cloud platform beyond the corporate firewall to service providers itching to make some dough on this cloud computing razzmatazz.

If you were expecting Hewlett-Packard to make big announcements at its Discover 2011 event in Las Vegas concerning its rumored Scalene public cloud or its forthcoming hosted and private clouds based on Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud stack, you were no doubt disappointed. HP's top brass didn't want to talk about either of these today. They focused on how the company was beefing up its CloudSystem so that it could bridge the gap between internal, private clouds based on HP's BladeSystem servers and hosted private clouds or public clouds run by telecom companies and hosting providers

The CloudSystem is not something new, of course. There's a lot of bundling and name changing going on, and HP is perhaps guilty of this more than its peers in the upper echelons of the IT racket. HP has been peddling something it calls BladeSystem Matrix since rival Cisco Systems entered the server racket in early 2009 with a blade server line called the Unified Computing System, sporting converged server and storage networks and integrated management of virtualized compute, storage, and networking.

BladeSystem is, of course, the name of the HP blade server line. What made it a Matrix, and therefore cooler, was a hodge-podge HP systems software – Insight systems management software merged with the orchestration software that came from Opsware (formerly known as Opsware Workflow), both of which were given a graphical templating environment to make it easier to provision, patch, and manage servers and their software. HP initially only supported ProLiant x64 physical blades running Windows or Linux or VMware and Microsoft hypervisors (ESX and Hyper-V, respectively), but eventually added Itanium-based Integrity blades running HP-UX or OpenVMS to the hardware/software stack.

Shh, don't say blade.

Then the words "blade" and "matrix" were no longer cool, and earlier this year, HP added some more cloudy features to the stack – adding new code to existing programs such as Operations Orchestration, SiteScope, Server Automation, Cloud Service Portal, and Service Gateway – and changed the name of the product to CloudSystem Matrix. That software stack got a new name, too: Cloud Service Automation Suite.

In January, when the latest iteration of the CloudSystem Matrix and its CSA software stack debuted, HP said that the tools would eventually enable customers running private clouds to be able to burst out to other platforms, including HP's ProLiant rack and tower servers, as well as out to do cloud bursting out to public clouds like Amazon's EC2.

Today, HP started making good on that promise. In a briefing for the press from Discover, Steven Dietch, vice president of cloud solutions and infrastructure at HP, said that starting today, the company would support the provisioning and management of non-HP servers sporting either Intel Xeon or Advanced Micro Devices Opteron processors.

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