The Cloud in HP’s Cloud (Part 2): HP Discover, the Enterprise and AWS Cloud

imageLast month I attended HP Discover (disclosure: my participation was funded by Ivy World). The IT war already started however HP stands still not taking initiatives and real risks as true leaders should take. At the three-day conference I learned why some companies don’t last and why this IT giant is at a great risk of losing in this new era IT battle. This is a story of a lasting company that might have already lost.

> > > HP’s Washes the Cloud

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My 5 Enterprise Cloud Predictions for 2013

imageI believe that this is the year when the enterprise will find its way to the cloud.

The mega Internet sites and applications are the new era enterprises. These will become the role models for the traditional enterprise. IT needs remain the same with regards to scale, security, SLA, etc. However, the traditional enterprise CIO has already set the goal for next year: 100% efficiency.

The traditional CIO understands that in order to achieve that goal, IT will need to start and do cloud, make sure that IT resources are utilized right, and that his teams move fast.

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Amazon AWS is the Cloud (for now anyway)

Every day I talk, write and comment about the “Cloud”. Every time I mention the cloud I try to make sure that I add the name of the relevant cloud operator, “Rackspace Cloud, “MS Cloud” (Azure) or “HP Cloud”. Somehow all of these cloud titles don’t right to me – it seems the only title that really works for me is the “Amazon Cloud”. In this post, I will elaborate about the competition in the IaaS market and I will explain further why I think this is so.

HP vs. Amazon AWS

Earlier this month, HP announced release of a public cloud offering based on Openstack in a public bet. Zorowar Biri Singh, SVP and GM for HP Cloud Services, admitted that HP is really late to market and he also added that:

HP believes that startups – particularly those that sell services to enterprises – will want to move off Amazon as they grow but won’t want to build their own data centers. Read more

Last year I attend the HP cloud tech day. It was amazing to see this giant fighting for its life on the IT field. It is one thing to be able to promote public cloud, but you also need to select your words carefully. Singh’s statements aren’t in line with a public cloud strategy; on the contrary, they focus on the fact that HP’s state of mind is not ready for delivering a true public cloud. Establishing a public cloud is one thing, but leading with the right strategy is what counts – trivial isn’t it?

We’re not necessarily the first place a startup is going to look for in getting going. But I can assure you we’ve also got the type global footprint and an SLA and a business-grade point of view that understands the enterprise. That’s what we’re betting on.

I strongly suggest Mr. Singh be more careful. Specifically, these types of statements remind me of Kodak –  they claimed to have a strong hold on the market, they maintained that as people shoot more digital photos eventually they will print more. On January this year the 131-year-old company filed for bankruptcy.

SAP on Amazon AWS

AWS and SAP Announced Certification of AWS Infrastructure for SAP Business All-in-One Solutions Research Study Shows Infrastructure Cost Savings of up to 69% when Running SAP Solutions on AWS Read More

Due to market demand forces, SAP was forced to find its way in the cloud. In 2007, SAP announced the launch of BusinessByDesign, its (SaaS) On-Demand initiative, with no success while their customer base drifted to companies like Salesforce and Netsuite. This month SAP finally announced that they believe in the public cloud by making an interesting supportive move and partnering with the Cloud – Amazon AWS.

Customers now have the flexibility to deploy their SAP solutions and landscapes on the scalable, on-demand AWS platform without making required long-term commitments or costly capital expenditures for their underlying infrastructure. Learn more about the offering. Read More

This SAP certification strengthens the AWS position in the enterprise (for your attention Mr. Singh). IMHO SAP made a great decision to “go with the flow” and not resist it.

Openstack vs. Eucalyptus for Amazon AWS

Openstack was initiated by Rackspace and NASA in 2010. Today this cloud open source project is supported by about 150 IT and hardware companies such as Dell and HP, which trust this platform and are investing in building their public cloud with it.

It’s maybe two or three years before OpenStack will have matured to the point where it has enough features to be useful. The challenge that everyone else has is Amazon is not only bigger than them, it’s accelerating away from them.   –Netflix cloud architect Adrian Cockcroft

In March of this year, Amazon guys published their belief in the private and hybrid cloud by announcing their signed alliance with Eucalyptus, which delivers open-source software for building an AWS compatible private cloud. In April, Eucalyptus published its $30M series C funding. Together with Amazon and SAP’s joining of forces, this accentuates the fact that Amazon AWS is very seriously about conquering a share of the enterprise IT market (again ..for your attention Mr. Singh). This week I attend IGTCloud  OpenStack 2012 summit in Tel Aviv. I was hoping to hear some news about the progress and the improvement of this platform and I found nothing that can harm the AWS princess for the next few years. OpenStack is mainly ready for vendors who wants to run into the market with a really immature and naive cloud offering. I do believe that the giant vendors’ “Openstack Consortium” will be able to present an IaaS platform, but how much time will it take? Does the open cloud platform perception accelerate its development or the other way around? Still, for now, Amazon is the only Cloud.

Microsoft and Google vs. Amazon AWS

This month Derrick Harris published his scoop on GigaOm –  “Google, Microsoft both targeting Amazon with new clouds”. I am not sure whether it is a real scoop. It is kind of obvious that both giants strive to find their place in Gartner’s Gartner Magic Quadrant report:

IaaS by Gartner

With regards to Microsoft, the concept of locking in the customer is in the company’s blood and has led the MSDN owner to present Azure with its “PaaS first” strategy.  I had several discussions with MS Azure guys last year requesting to check the “trivial” IaaS option for self-provisioning of a cloud window instance. Already back then they said that it was on their roadmap and soon to be available.

This month AWS CTO Werner Vogells promoted the enablement of RDS services for MSSQL on his blog, noting:

You can run Amazon RDS for SQL Server under two different licensing models – “License Included” and Microsoft License Mobility. Under the License Included service model, you do not need to purchase SQL Server software licenses. “License Included” pricing starts at $0.035/hour and is inclusive of SQL Server software, hardware, and Amazon RDS management capabilities.

Is that good for Microsoft? It seems that Amazon AWS is the one to finally enable Microsoft platforms as pay-per-use service that is also compatible with the on-premise MS application deployments. One can say that by supporting this new AWS feature, Microsoft actually supports the natural evolution of AWS to become a PaaS vendor, putting their own PaaS offering at risk.

IMHO, Google is a hope. The giant web vendor has the XaaS concept running in its blood, so I believe that once Google presents it IaaS offering it will be a great competitor for AWS and Openstack ways. Another great advantage of AWS over these guys, and others, is its proven “economies of scale” and pricing agility. Microsoft and Google will need to take a deep breath and invest vast amounts of money to compete with the AWS – not only to build an IaaS vendor experience  but to improve upon their pricing.

Final Words

I can go on and discuss Rackspace cloud (managed services…) or IBM smart (enterprise…) cloud. Each of these great clouds has its own degree of immaturity in comparison to the Cloud.

Last week I had quick chat with Zohar Alon, CEO at Dome9, a cloud security start-up. The new start-up implemented its service across respectable amount of cloud operators.

I asked Mr. Alon to tell me, based on his experience, whether he agrees with me about the state of the IaaS market and the immaturity of the other cloud vendors in comparison to AWS cloud. He responded:

 The foresight to include Security Groups, the inbound little firewalls that protect your instances from most network threats, was a key product decision, early on by Amazon AWS. Even today, years after Security Groups launched, other cloud providers don’t offer a viable comparable.

The cloud changed the way we consume computation and networking so we can’t (and shouldn’t be able to) call our cloud provider and ask them to “install an old-school firewall in front of my cloud”. Amazon AWS was the first to realize that, and turned what looked like a limitation of the cloud, into an advantage and a competitive differentiator! At Dome9 we work with DevOps running hundreds of instances in a multitude of regions and offer them next generation control, management and automation for their AWS security, leveraging the AWS Security Groups API.

I am sure that this basic security capability must be delivered by the cloud operator itself. Cloud company is a new perception, it is not technical – it is strategic. Amazon follows its strategy with some of cloud basic guidelines: Continuous Deployment, Fast Delivery, API first, Low level of lock in, Full visibility and honesty, and so on. When Amazon AWS started in 2006, people didn’t understand what they were doing though the company leaders understood the business potential. Without a doubt, for now anyway, the Cloud is Amazon.

(Cross-posted on CloudAve Cloud & Business Strategy)

The Cloud in HP’s Cloud

Last week I was invited to the HP Tech Day in HP’s campus in Houston to learn and hear more about the giant’s cloud offering. I appreciate HP and Ivy very much for the invitation and for a great event where I was able to learn more and see these clouds in real. I had the privilege to meet savvy and professional guys. It is always great to see people that are enthusiastic on their jobs and are proud of their company. Let me share with you HP’s cloud from my point of view.

> > > The EcoPOD

HP’s guys took me and a my fellow bloggers on a great journey inside HP’s cloud. The most fascinating adventure from me was the HP EcoPOD, an out-of-the-box, ready-made hosting/cloud infrastructure creature. The finalization of the product seems to be a perfect art and with no doubt HP is still a great infrastructure market leader. The Ecopod units serves IaaS providers, huge enterprises and mega websites. The investment of buying this ready-made bank of servers can be stretched from 3 to 5 years commitment so you can actually consider that as a subscription based service. The HP private cloud offering ruled the tech day including support for bursting internally or over to a public cloud, supported by Saavis. Read more about HP’s cloud bursting on TechTalk by Philip Sellers

> > > The Cloud In HP’s Cloud

The second part of the IaaS is the software for provisioning, maintaining and controlling of the cloud resources. For that matter HP conduct a several hours of demonstration of its CloudSystem product. Once the cloud infrastructure deployed, the enterprise can provision the virtual resources, orchestrate and create a catalog of app stacks utilizing the CloudSystem. One of the main features of the platform is the Cloud Maps (I really love the name) that enables the enterprise’ IT to plan and create new app stacks or even import ready made ones straight from the HP web portal. The UI/UX is very compelling though the management capabilities are very basic. I am not sure that I saw a real cloud environment but an upgraded virtualization control and provisioning application. Following my debates on that I was told that there are some implementations of an elastic environment using custom adjustments. HP also revealed that they are working on an OpenStack implementation though I wasn’t convinced enough to believe that there are serious plans for this matter. Due to the lack of out-of-the-box features such as auto-scaling and elasticity as well as the lack of a real cloud perception that a server is just one atomic unit, I still wonder where is the cloud in HP’s cloud ?


On a “cloud security” session, I raised a basic cloud security issue, where the enterprise need to be able to maintain SSO and IAM solutions to all its applications’ portfolio including the SaaS ones. I asked to know if HP support that kind of features or plan to do so in the future. The HP response was not satisfying and led me to think again about the extreme separation between the infrastructure and the applications that the cloud brought. The answer I anticipated to hear was really simple: As an IaaS provider, HP focuses on the internal network security and the access to the on-premise physical and virtual resources. The SaaS players have the responsibility to provide extensions that integrate with the enterprise private cloud and support issues such as SSO.

It is an evident that the cloud brought the need to re-position the traditional IT vendor offerings and make sure these are related to the specific cloud layer (IaaS, PaaS or SaaS), otherwise it is a confusing play that presents a great risk to the business future.

> > > Conclusion

It is clear that this veteran market leader as other IT giants finds itself segmented into a new definition as an IaaS vendor. The giant struggles getting into a leadership position in this emerging market as it is surrounded by a great competition coming from old competitors such as IBM or Oracle. Furthermore I think that a greater competition comes from the advanced cloud vendors such as Amazon, Rackspace, Salesforce and more others that already taking a great market share. I find it exciting to watch the market evolves, how new business threats are born and how the industry giants pushing hard to find their golden path all over again.

The Cloud Lock-In (Part 1): Public IaaS is Great !

It always good to start with Wikipedia’s definition as it helps to initiate a structured discussion, here is Wiki’s definition for Lock-In:

“In economics, vendor lock-in, also known as proprietary lock-in or customer lock-in, makes a customer dependent on a vendor for products and services, unable to use another vendor without substantial switching costs. Lock-in costs which create barriers to market entry may result in antitrust action against a monopoly.” Read more on Wikipedia

Does the cloud present a major lock-in ? Does the move create substantial switching costs?

“Yes !” is the common answer I hear for those questions. In this article I will debate it basing my findings on real cloud adoption cases.

Generally in terms of cloud’s lock-in, we face the same issues as in the traditional world where the move includes re-implementation of the IT service. It involves issues such as data portability, users guidance and training, integration, etc.

“I think we’ve officially lost the war on defining the core attributes of cloud computing so that businesses and IT can make proper use of it. It’s now in the hands of marketing organizations and PR firms who, I’m sure, will take the concept on a rather wild ride over the next few years.”

The above statement I bring from David Linthicum’s article “It’s official: ‘Cloud computing’ is now meaningless”. Due to my full consent with Linthicum on that matter, I will be accurate and try to make a clear assessment of the cloud lock-in issue by relating each of the three cloud layers (i.e. IPS aaS) separately.

In this part, I will relate to the most lower layer, the IaaS lock-in.

It is a fact that IT organizations take advantage of the IaaS platforms by moving part or even all of their physical resources to the public clouds. Furthermore, ISVs move at least their test and development environments and making serious plans to move (or already moved) part of their production environment to the public clouds.

Read more about shifting legacy systems to the cloud by Ben Kepes

Discussing with a public IaaS consumers, it always come to the point where I ask “do you feel locked on your cloud vendor ?” most, if not all of the companies’ leaders claim that the public clouds’ values (on-demand, elastic, agility,ect) overcomes the lock-in impact so they are willing to compromise. As a cloud enthusiastic it is great for me to see the industry leaders’ positive approach towards moving their businesses to the cloud (again too general – any of them refer to a different layer). I do not think that the lock-in is so serious.

For sometime this claim sounded pretty reasonable to me though on second thought I find that the discussion should start from a comparison with the traditional data center “locks”. Based on this comparison I can already state that one of the major public cloud advantages is the weak lock-in, simply because you don’t buy hardware. Furthermore, companies that still use the public cloud as an hosting extension to their internal data center, don’t acquire new (long term or temporary) assets that they can’t get rid of without having a major loss. In regards to its lock-in the public cloud is great !

Another important explanation related specifically to Amazon AWS products which support SaaS scalability and operations. Smart SaaS architect will plan the cloud integration layer, so that the application logic and workflow will be strongly tied with the underlying IaaS capabilities such as on-demand resources auto provisioning.

Read more about the relationship between web developers and the cloud

For example, the web can use the cloud integration layer to get on-demand EC2 resources for a specific point when a complex calculation occurs. In a superficial glance, the fact that the cloud API used as a part of the application run-time script holds an enormous lock-in risks. I disagree and let me explain why.

As a market leader, Amazon AWS will be (already is) followed by other IaaS vendors. Those will solve the same scalability and operational issues by the same sense and logic of AWS. Basically this means an evolution of IaaS platform standards. Smart cloud integration layer will enable “plug & play” a different IaaS platform or even orchestrate several in parallel. To strengthen my point I bring as an example several cloud start-ups (solving IaaS issues such as governance, usage and security) that developed their product to solve issues for Amazon AWS consumers and seriously target support of other IaaS vendors’ platforms such as Rackspace cloud and vCloud. In regards to lock-in the public cloud is great !

The IaaS vendors in the market recognize the common lock-in drawback of moving to the cloud. Vendors such as Rackspace brings the OpenStack which is a cloud software platform, so cloud vendors can build IaaS solutions upon it. Rackspace showing off on their blog site –

OpenStack™ is a massively scalable cloud operating system, powering the world’s leading clouds. Backed by more than 50 participating organizations, OpenStack is quickly becoming the industry standard for public and private clouds. Read More

It should be noted that applications and data switching between clouds is still complex and in some cases not feasible though believing in the public cloud’s future comes with understanding of its weak lock-in and will lead to visionary and long term strategic plans.

What about the private IaaS ?

Following my on going research on what is the best cloud option (i.e public, private or hybrid), I found that outsourcing the IT environment to a private or an hybrid includes a major lock-in. Implementation of a private or an hybrid cloud includes lots of customization, hence lack of standards. Private and Hybrid clouds have their benefits though lock-in is not one of them. The contract with the vendor is for 3 to 5 years at least (a data center’s typical depreciation period) on a non standard environment leads to an extreme, long term lock-in in terms of the “on-demand world”.

In order to decrease lock-in the IaaS consumer must prove the organization need for a private cloud by planning strategically for long term. Besides the ordinary due diligence to prove the vendor strength, the contract must include termination points and creative ideas that can weaken the lock-in. For example renewal of initial contract under re-assessing of the service standards, costs and terms in comparison with the cloud market, including the public one. The private cloud vendor must prove on-going efficiency improvements and costs reductions accordingly.

In his article Keep the ‘Cloud’ User in Charge”, Mark Bohannon, VP at Red Hat, Warns:

by vendors to lock in their customers to particular cloud architecture and non-portable solutions, and heavy reliance on proprietary APIs. Lock-in drives costs higher and undermines the savings that can be achieved through technical efficiency. If not carefully managed, we risk taking steps backwards, even going toward replicating the 1980s, where users were heavily tied technologically and financially into one IT framework and were stuck there.”

Some of the private cloud offering today have similar characteristics as the traditional data center, to me it seems that the former comes with a stronger lock-in impacts. In case of an IT transition companies who decide to go that way should expect a considerable switching costs and long term recovery of their IT operations hence of their business.

The second part will discuss the cloud lock-in characteristics in regards to the SaaS and the PaaS layers.