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HPE turns the page on catalog approach to cloud services

Maxwell Cooter Profile picture for user maxcooter December 9, 2015
HP may have been playing cloud catch-up, but HPE intends to make up for lost time with a new catalog approach to cloud service delivery.

HP has had a slightly uneasy relationship with cloud computing. While Salesforce was busy creating a whole new market for SaaS and while Amazon was inventing a new way to host servers, HP was busy ousting its then CEO Carly Fiorina.[Whatever happened to her? Oh. Ed]

By the time the company had got round to tackling this market, AWS had already gobbled up about 70% of the public cloud space, Microsoft and Google had both announced their plans for the cloud arena and Rackspace had unleashed OpenStack on a wider world.

In 2011, HP announced its public cloud service – again behind the times – and has been playing catch-up ever since. Since then, HP has concentrated on its private cloud offering and public cloud was pushed to one side, although the company always denied that it was about to be shelved ... almost up till the time when Bill Hilf announced that it was being dumped.

Now, in its new guise as HP Enterprise, the company is happy to present its new vision – or rather a facelift for its older vision. First, there was the announcement at its conference, HPE Discover, that the company had entered a partnership with Microsoft making Azure its preferred supplier for cloud services.

And now, today, HP has announced the launch of its pan-European cloud catalog, Cloud 28+. This offers European businesses the choice of 680 services, allowing customers to compare providers using a range of criteria; for example, on price, service location, security and certification. The service location will be particularly important for organisations, like those in Germany, who have to choose providers from the domestic market.

The service has taken about a year to get off the ground – HPE first announced plans for Cloud 28+ last December. According to Xavier Poisson, HPE’s vice president of hybrid cloud for Europe this is because the company wanted to make sure the catalogue offered meaningful choice to potential customers:

It took a bit of a time as we wanted a lot of services before GA. We now have a 1000 companies signed up for the catalog.

The catalogue is still in its early stages. It took a bit of time because we wanted a lot of services for GA; He says that the initial catalog is about 80% of IaaS services with about 20% SaaS and that"

In the future there will be more PaaS and SaaS available.

Users to suppliers

One of the more interesting developments for the venture, will be the way that cloud users can turn into cloud suppliers by building on their development and re-selling their projects back to the community, enabling customers’ IT teams to become revenue-generating bodies.

Poisson sees this as a growing trend:

It’s not necessarily a big part of Cloud 28+ but it’s a growing part. It’s something you see from cities who have developed cloud services and want to push out the most complex to other cities. Thessaloniki in Greece is a good example of this; they are very interested in publishing some of their services to the catalogue.

In many ways, the Cloud 28+ resembles the Digital Marketplace venture (formerly G Cloud) from the UK government but there’s one big difference, as Poisson points out.:

G Cloud was for public sector, while Cloud 28+ is for everybody – public or private.

Poisson says that he doesn’t want this to be seen as a marketing exercise for HPE. He explains that the aim is to have it as open as possible:

We’re currently looking at the legal framework we’re going to have – whether it will be a foundation, for example. We don’t know exactly what it will be but we’re setting up an interim board made up of ISVs, cloud service providers and HPE, and will announce a framework sometime in the middle of next year.

And, despite the tie-up between HPE and Microsoft announced last week at Discover, customers are not going to be bound to Azure for public cloud services. You can integratate cloud services – it’s already happening with Azure. It’s a component of the mix, says Poisson, pointing out that customers will source cloud services from a variety of outlets.

You may not want to use Microsoft, it’s optional.

And while Amazon Web Services is not going to be part of the catalogue, Poisson is aware that AWS is going to be part of the mix:

We have customers who have designed a catalog for cloud services; sometimes they go to Azure, sometimes to Amazon, sometimes they use OpenStack.

The catalog certainly fits in with HPE’s firm belief that hybrid cloud is the future, with Poisson, explaining that it’s important to determine which service will sit where:

We have hybrid cloud conversations with our customers.

My take

The HPE Cloud 28+ catalogue is an interesting venture. Certainly, after being behind off the pace for so long when it comes to cloud, the company is actually setting the pace. But there are questions how relevant it’s going to be. As the UK government found when it launched G Cloud, years and years of procurement practice and business relationships won’t be discarded quickly.

The Cloud 28+ catalog does have several factors going for it, however. The prominence of ISVs means that customers will be able to carry on with some existing relationships, rather than turn to vendors they may not know. The fact that it’s pan-European will undoubtedly help some organisations who have to procure across the continent.

Most of all, however, it is the ability for cloud customers to sell back the services they have developed themselves. CIOs often talk about IT departments being revenue generators, but what they generally mean is that IT can be used as a way to save money. This takes the concept to a whole new level and creates a brand new market.

It will especially be useful within local authorities where applications run by one council are broadly the same as ones run by another – the Cloud 28+ catalog provides ample opportunities for cities to make some money for once.

It’s early days yet, but this creation of a brand new European marketplace could finally place HPE on the cloud map – even if it has taken some time.

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