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March 12, 2012

HP Positions Public Cloud Offering as Alternative to Amazon

Tiffany Trader

Computer technology giant Hewlett-Packard is on track to launch a major cloud computing service this spring, one that’s “business grade, developer focused open source-based.”

HP Cloud Services log inAccording to the New York Times story that broke the news, the offering will be similar to Amazon Web Services but with “more business-oriented features.” Initial applications will include data analytics and database technologies developed through recent acquisitions Vertica and Autonomy.

Zorawar “Biri” Singh, senior vice president and general manager of HP’s Cloud Services unit, reveals, “We’re not just building a cloud for infrastructure. Amazon has the lead there. We have to build a platform layer, with a lot of third-party services.”

HP’s Cloud Services will support the most common online software languages, such as Ruby, Java, PHP and Python, and the company plans to offer a “full suite of web management and reporting tools” as well.

As for a pricing model, this will not be a race to be the cheapest. HP hopes to entice business users with a wide array of services and comprehensive customer support. With additional features comes additional cost: “We are not coming at this at ’8 cents a virtual computing hour, going to 5 cents,’” Singh tells the Times, referring to Amazon Web Services’ recent price reductions.

The company’s initial Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings include HP Cloud Compute and HP Cloud Object Storage, built with OpenStack technology on top of HP hardware and software. The cloud is currently US-based, with datacenters located on the East and West coasts, but the company is already talking about scaling the infrastructure to support a global presence of small datacenters. In this way, HP is diverging from the mega-datacenter approach employed by the likes of Google and Amazon.

HP seems aware of the pitfalls and pluses of entering this space, but needs to be careful not to alienate long-term partners like Microsoft (with its competing Azure service). The company message is that HP is committed to building a complete cloud that meets the needs of its entire user community – developers, ISVs, partners, service providers, and enterprises. The private beta, which has been up and running for a year now, will be made public in the next two months.

HP Cloud Services: Getting Started from HP Cloud on Vimeo.