“Everybody On” the Bandwagon: HP Finally Embraces Cloud Computing

March 16, 2011 Appirio

Ryan Nichols

The big news out of yesterday’s HP Summit was Léo Apotheker’s embrace of cloud computing and connectivity…. using the tagline “Everybody On.”

Leo’s embrace of cloud computing is in stark contrast to the skepticism that Mark Hurd expressed at Gartner Symposium a couple of years ago, and brings HP in line with what the rest of the IT industry has known for 2-3 years– that enterprises of all sizes are moving more and more of their IT to public cloud platforms.

But better late than never– having the world hear Leo call cloud computing “the future of information technology” is a big step forward for the entire industry, and there was a lot to like in the presentations coming out of HP Summit.

We like to see HP coming out so strongly in favor of:

  • Public Clouds (vs. Private): It would have been easy for HP to continue selling CIOs on the fiction that they can have the power of the cloud in their own data center. Instead, Leo was unambiguous– HP sees its future in the public cloud.
  • Cloud Platforms (vs. Infrastructure): It would have been easy for HP to focus on its existing strengths in infrastructure. Instead, Leo made clear that he sees value higher in the stack.
  • Hybrid Architectures (vs. Hybrid Clouds): Every enterprise needs to manage a hybrid architecture as they move more and more of their infrastructure to the public cloud. This is a reality that’s important to manage. This is different from the concept of a “hybrid cloud” that magically shifts payloads back and forth across the firewall, a concept that’s neither possible nor very desirable. Leo focused on the former, not the later.
  • Cloud & Mobility: This is a natural for HP to emphasize, with its strength in devices. While it’s wishful thinking to position printers as the “offramp of the cloud,” Leo nailed the fact that Cloud and Mobility are 2 of the 3 most important issues facing CIOs (Social Business is the missing 3rd).

All that being said, our enterprise customers have a “we’ll believe it when we see it” attitude towards the announcement of this upcoming “HP Cloud.” HP is very late to the game, and we’ve already seen how difficult it is for the incumbents to move quickly in the space, especially when they have as much to lose in the traditional data center as HP does.

In particular, we’re skeptical of HP’s intention to:

  • Lead with a marketplace. This is an implicit acknowledgment that HP’s biggest asset in this race is its customer base, not its technology. But it’s not clear that the enterprise needs yet-another cloud marketplace.
  • Bridge Consumer and Enterprise. While the consumerization of IT is an important trend, HP’s vision for this trend reflects its Frankenstein portfolio of consumer and enterprise devices.
  • Execute on Analytics. Analytics remains one of the great unsolved problems of enterprise IT, but HP’s demonstration a rack of servers optimizing rental car rates on the fly felt at least 10 years old.

So did the HP Summit get us to buy HP’s “Everybody On” vision? Partially– certainly more than we expected. But one thing is clear– when it comes to Cloud Computing, it’s now clear that EVERYBODY is on the bandwagon.

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