HP Cloud Going Head to Head With Amazon Web Services
In development for over a year, the HP cloud is gearing up for release--and within two months, according to senior officials. The cloud will go head to head with Amazon Web Services (AWS) but isn't intended to reinvent the cloud wheel; rather, the plan is offer more business-oriented features to both capture new customers and entice those who use other services away from their current providers. In an increasingly network-based world where hardware manufacturing is no longer king, this is a smart move for HP. But will it work?
Amazon's Web View
The online retail giant is a leader in the provision of consumer cloud services to companies of all sizes and has firmly established itself on the forefront of consumer technology development. According to a recent IT World Canada article, Amazon sees a new era dawning, one of "utility supercomputing" where massive amounts of storage space and resources are available on demand. Dr. Matt Wood of Amazon, speaking at the Intel Xeon E5 launch in London compares the cloud--and AWS by extension--to a utility such as electricity or gas, since business consumers can pay as they use services instead of being locked in for certain amounts of time or money. Now, says Wood, Big Data processing is limited only by infrastructure; according to Wood, the bar for even small and midsize businesses to enter the market has been lowered by allowing for "bursty" scalability and letting users spend "at least 70 percent of their time on differentiated work, rather than keeping the light on."
It's fair to say that Amazon has entry-level cloud computing figured out. The company recently lowered the price of their service to 2 cents per hour in some cases, but the HP cloud isn't trying to match that standard. Rather, HP sees their own version of the cloud as an evolution, one focused more on business users than on massive consumer space.
"We're not just building a cloud for infrastructure," says Zorawar "Biri" Singh, senior VP and general manager for HP's cloud services, according to an article at The New York Times. Instead, he says, "[It will be] a platform layer, with a lot of third-party services." Structured and unstructured databases, for example, along with data analytics as a service are some of the first apps that will be available when the HP service goes live.
Instead of a self-serve model, Hewlett-Packard plans to offer personalized service and sales along with tools for developers in addition to an online store where consumers can rent or offer up software for use in the public cloud. Mindful of security issues, Singh says that there will be significant oversight of these offerings. HP is also clear about its intentions--while their focus is on competing with Amazon by offering more business-centric services right off the bat, Singh also says, "[We] want to make it hard for an IBM or an Oracle or anyone to come in."
Public, private, or hybrid clouds are rapidly becoming a requirement for business IT to handle the amount of Big Data they gather and provision the kind of analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) software needed to stay competitive. It's not whether or not these clouds will succeed that is the question, but rather which clouds will perform over time. Amazon Web Services offers some of the cheapest per-hour computing in the industry, but HP hopes that its version will not only attract some of Amazon's midsized business clients but also leverage cloud technology to increase the effectiveness of all Hewlett-Packard sales channels. For IT admins, the choice comes down to evaluating HP's strong reputation for business computing acumen against Amazon's track record in the cloud.