Hang on: Didn't HP already offer OpenStack and a public cloud?

image of cake with OpenStack logo
Credit: ahockley

Anybody who has been following the evolution of OpenStack knows that HP has already been talking big about its involvement with the open source technology. HP already offered an OpenStack public cloud. It also sold an OpenStack distribution that companies could use to build their own internal OpenStack private clouds.

So what exactly is new today as part of HP's announcement of a $1 billion investment in OpenStack?

It's essentially an admission that HP only been dipping its toe into the OpenStack water and now it's decided to truly invest in the technology.

Here's an example. HP's former implementation of OpenStack was so far from the trunk of OpenStack, including so much proprietary technology, that some leaders in the community complained that HP shouldn't have actually called it OpenStack. Also, HP's former OpenStack distribution was tied to HP hardware.

The new Helion HP OpenStack distribution is fully open source and can run on any hardware, said Saar Gillai, senior vice president and chief operating officer for HP Cloud.

Plus, HP's existing public cloud running on OpenStack is actually only operating out of two of HP's 80 data centers around the world, according to The New York Times article covering today's news. The company now says it plans to offer OpenStack public cloud services out of 20 of those data centers over the next 18 months.

It sounds like HP's weak approach to OpenStack may have been giving customers pause. "Customers were asking us, 'are you all in, are you committed?'" said Martin Fink, HP's CTO. "We wanted customers to understand the scope and breadth of everything we're doing. So we said, 'we're going to tell everybody what we're spending.'"

HP said that it plans to spend $1 billion over the next two years on cloud related engineering and product initiatives. It is also rolling out a new brand for its OpenStack projects, called Helion, and said it will also deliver a platform-as-a-service offering. 

Apparently, $1 billion is the magic number when it comes to companies investing in OpenStack. In January, IBM committed $1.2 billion to its cloud initiatives, including plans to offer cloud services from 40 data centers around the globe. A year earlier IBM had expressed its commitment to OpenStack. In March, Cisco said it planned $1 billion in cloud investments, including around OpenStack. 

Clearly, OpenStack has loads of support from the big names in IT. But it hasn't taken off to the degree you might think given all the investment behind it. Despite its many backers, OpenStack isn't very widely implemented. It had some early wins with big names like PayPal, Bloomberg, Comcast, and Bestbuy.com, but has had very few new implementations to brag about over the past year.

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