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HP takes aim at Amazon with public cloud, virtual network components

HP leverages OpenStack to create public cloud offering; adds virtualized networking functions to FlexNetwork

By , Network World
April 10, 2012 09:04 AM ET

Network World - Hewlett-Packard today announced a series of open source-based cloud offerings and added network automation capabilities to its hardware products in an attempt to carve out its piece of a market currently topped by Amazon Web Services.

HP announced that its public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service offering, called HP Cloud Services, will be launched in May. It's based on open source software from OpenStack and more than 6,000 customers have already used it in beta, the company says. In addition to the public cloud offering, HP also rolled out a series of software applications that allow enterprises to manage their private or public clouds, regardless of whether they use HP hardware or not.

On the networking side, the company is making a move toward software defined networking (SDN) through a series of new network automation tools that will be added to the company's FlexNetwork product.

Analysts say the moves represent HP's attempt to join the increasingly crowded cloud provider market, while the network advancements will give enterprises a new way to automate and virtualize their networks.

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Prior to the announcements, HP commissioned a study that it says found that hybrid cloud models -- meaning those that combine public and private clouds -- are the model most enterprises will use in the future. With that in mind, company officials say it's important to create cloud offerings based on an open source model to allow interoperability between public and private clouds, as well as between clouds and legacy IT environments. "HP Converged Cloud enables enterprises to incorporate a blend of public, private and managed cloud services with their existing IT infrastructure to create seamless hybrid environments that rapidly adapts to their changing requirements," says Bill Veghte, EVP of software for HP, in a press release.

In addition to the announcement of the public cloud IaaS offering, HP also announced its Enterprise Cloud Services portfolio, which are a series of software applications for managing private clouds, business continuity functions and unified communications. HP also announced an expansion of its CloudMaps features, which provide instructions for how certain applications from third-party vendors -- such as Microsoft Exchange or SharePoint -- can be integrated into the HP cloud.

IDC analyst Frank Gens says the company's cloud moves are not surprising. There have been rumors of a public cloud offering from HP for months, and the company's involvement in OpenStack signaled that it may release a product based on the open source software. "I think they've got a strong message that will line up well with HP's perceived strengths in the market," Gens says. Enterprise IT managers are looking for a simple way to manage the complex and fast-evolving cloud market, Gens says. HP can leverage its relationships with enterprise customers by offering a series of cloud offerings and management products, he says.

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