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HP dishes up FAIL-filled public cloud

OpenStack-based tech has more 'known issues' than 'features', says HP

Application security programs and practises

HP's "general availability" version of its public cloud has more "known issues" than "features", which may provoke worries among admins mulling the value of the company's "enterprise-grade" OpenStack infrastructure cloud.

The 13.5 release of the public cloud was announced on Monday, and brought with it "lots of great new features," HP said in a blog post.

These include new instances such as a high-memory range, the add-in of a service level agreement for block storage, greater network customization options, and other management tweaks.

But it also brought with it a bevy of issues that should induce a state of clammy terror in any admin wanting to take a spin on the tech.

For example, HP has apparently dropped support for both Amazon EC2 APIs and private cloud Eucalyptus tools. The AWS EC2 APIs are widely used and have become a de facto standard for building cloud apps – but not in HP land. "The ec2 API and euca-tools are not supported in this release," the company wrote.

We asked Eucalyptus chief Marten Mickos whether he had been informed about this change in advance. "Nope, know nothing," he told us.

And as for the new high-memory instances, well, if you want to take these for a spin, you may have trouble: "Windows instances booted using the highmem flavor are unusable," HP says.

Well, OK. What about spinning up a large number of instances at once – this is, after all, the cloud. Surely that's reasonable? Nope.

"If you attempt to simultaneously launch a large number of instances, some instances might not be pingable or accessible via ssh. HP recommends staggering your launch of multiple instances to batches of at most 100 at a time for the best performance," HP says.

Fancy snapshotting a large instance and spin-up a small one modeled on the snapshot? Nope, can't be done. "All flavors larger than xsmall require a root disk size of 30GB, you cannot boot an xsmall instance from an instance snapshot of a larger flavor," HP explains.

Want to configure your network using OpenStack's new (and notoriously flaky) "Neutron" networking manager? Nope. "Neutron port-update does not support attaching an instance to a port. You must use nova boot to attach a pre-created port to an instance," HP says.

How about resetting passwords via the Windows command line interface? Nope. "Not currently available," says HP.

Do you need to quickly tear down your storage volumes? Well, good luck. "You should detach a volume before you delete it; performing a detach and delete simultaneously causes the volume to enter an inconsistent state," HP says.

Well, what about security mainstay SSH? "ssh access to your instance might unexpectedly cease functioning," HP explains. "Workaround: Contact customer support."

A full list of issues is available here.

Both HP and Rackspace's public clouds are based on OpenStack – an ambitious open source technology that aims to take on Amazon.

But given these issues, it seems like the cloud OS currently lacks many key features for large infrastructure-as-a-service deployments, reminding us of a Gartner analyst's recent opinion that "for one promising or successful deployment there are several that fail and that will forever remain undocumented."

HP's cloud has promise and failure in equal measure. ®

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