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HP drops $1bn, two-year OpenStack cash bomb

Floats own-branded open-source plus IP protection

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Hewlett-Packard is has unveiled a $1bn, two-year campaign promoting its open-source cloud, now rebranded as Helion.

The PC maker says it will be spending on R&D, the development of cloud products and hiring “hundreds” of experts in a new OpenStack professional services practice. Experts are being hired to cover planning advice, building and migration, and operations and management.

Underpinning this will be a tried and tested HP-branded version of the OpenStack distro released in two packages - one free, the other commercial.

Helion OpenStack Community edition is the free version but will feature relatively limited scale, for use in pilots and testing.

The commercial edition of the HP-branded code is promised for next month, and that will have been tested to scale to thousands of servers, support third-party plug-ins, come with management tools, and run with a choice hypervisors and hardware.

According to HP, Helion OpenStack follows the “core” of the OpenStack trunk.

A development platform that’s based on Cloud Foundry will also be announced. Called the HP Helion Development Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), HP’s development service is due for a preview release in the third quarter of the year.

HP is also offering Helion a financial umbrella should patent sharks come nibbling.

HP will promise indemnification against IP infringement claims to direct customers and customers of service providers and resellers on Helion.

The technology and legal push are to pave the way for a rollout of Helion OpenStack-based cloud services in 20 of HP’s 80 data centres in the next 18 months.

Also, HP’s OpenStack will be “tightly integrated” with its server, storage and networking platforms including its 3Par, StorVirtual VSA and SDN Controller.

Until now, HP had been building OpenStack code into only certain products, such as certain ARM-based servers in its Moonshot range.

In future, HP reckons ordinary ProLiant servers will ship with Helion OpenStack software and when you boot up they’ll search for their nearest Helion cloud.

Bill Hilf, HP's vice president of converged cloud products and services, told The Reg his company is making a “bold bet” with the $1bn OpenStack investment.

“It’s a huge, huge part or our strategic initiative for Hewlett Packard and a huge part of HP’s turnaround, frankly,” he told us.

“So many vendors put these big numbers out there... As we were prepared for this, we wanted to be clear this is not some fictional thing.”

On indemnification, he said enterprise customers want a “large and trusted” brand standing behind OpenStack should they be attacked by a patent troll.

“It’s all about giving enterprise customers the confidence that if something were to happen, they are protected,” he said. “It’s all about confidence and the assurance there is a vendor behind them.” ®

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