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HP fluffs public cloud with chunkier instances, private networks

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HP has puffed up its public cloud with a round of upgrades that see the IT company's systems get some of the capabilities of leaders like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

The upgrades to the HP Public Cloud were announced at HP Discover in Las Vegas on Wednesday. With them, HP's cloud will get some larger types of rentable server, a new virtual private cloud feature, custom image uploads, and a bulk import service – slightly narrowing the tech gap between HP's cloud and those of its rivals.

But the announcement is more based in hopeful marketing than actual products, as none of the features will be available until "this fall" – a release cadence that compares poorly with the typical cloud providers, who make their tech available alongside their announcements.

The virtual private cloud function lets users select whether or not their instances are accessible from the internet – a feature that's already available in Azure ("virtual networks"), Google ("virtual private networks"), and AWS ("virtual private cloud"). And although HP says it is enabled by software-defined networking, it doesn't give admins access to the flexible routing afforded by Google's Compute Engine in this regard.

HP is also letting customers create their own system images for cloud servers and then upload them into the HP Cloud Image Management Services. This feature is also available in Azure ("custom virtual machines"), Google ("custom images"), and Amazon ("custom AMIs").

As with any cloud, loading data in in bulk is a pain, so HP has taken the approach pioneered by Amazon Web Services and will let companies mail drives directly to HP's data centers, where information can be transferred in. Google doesn't do this yet and Microsoft doesn't officially support the feature, but will do it for some customers if they ask nicely, we understand.

HP's rentable hardware has been given a boost as well, via the creation of a new instance class with instances containing 16 virtual cores and 120GB of RAM. This compares more favorably with rivals, trouncing Azure's A7 8-core, 56GB instance and walloping Google's 8-core 52GB n1-highmem-8 instance. But it still isn't up to the standard set by Amazon, with its gigantic memory optimized, 32-core, 244GB cr1.8xlarge instance.

Though these technologies are all incremental features that fail to set HP apart from its key rivals – new instance types aside, which are competitive – we look forward to the company (hopefully) releasing some more interesting tech in the future, such as continuous integration as a service, or offering MoonShot-based instances for dense rentable compute clusters. None of these features are officially confirmed so far, though HP cloud chief Roger Levy hinted at them in a chat with The Register last week.

Though HP consistently refers to its cloud as enterprise-grade, we are yet to wrench a sensible definition of what this actually means out of the company. On the basis of these announced "enterprise-grade" features, it seems like the phrase means the capabilities of the major consumer-oriented cloud companies. ®

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