How will the HP Cloud strategy differentiate itself from Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and a potential flood of OpenStack cloud providers? Zorawar 'Biri' Singh, senior VP and GM of HP Cloud Services, offered Talkin' Cloud some clues today during the OpenStack Design Summit & Conference in San Francisco.

During a sit-down with Talkin' Cloud, Singh described how HP will work closely with VARs, MSPs and cloud services providers. Without prompting, Singh directed his comments toward each of those channel audiences, assuring the HP partner ecosystem that he and the broader HP are focused on partner needs.

HP announced a converged cloud strategy and HP Public Cloud initiative earlier this month. Part of the strategy leverages OpenStack, an open source cloud platform. Singh explained the strategy a bit more to be today. Here are the highlights:

1. Why HP Embraced OpenStack: HP has had a "cloud in a box" on premises solution and in the past year HP's ownership of EDS has matured. As more and more HP businesses announced tactical cloud moves, it came time for HP to share a broader cloud vision. "OpenStack allowed us to accelerate into the cloud market fairly quickly. We evaluated a bunch of stacks. It's a very important ingredient to our strategy. But it's one of several open source movements we'll support."

2. On When OpenStack Reached Its Tipping Point: My thesis: The day Canonical shifted Ubuntu's cloud bet from Eucalyptus to OpenStack, it was a wake up call for small vendors that were still getting ready to make their bets. "I would completely agree," replied Singh. "A bunch of private cloud guys have been at it [trying to develop platforms] for awhile but OpenStack caught up and passed them. We've been impressed with CloudStack and we're glad to see it moving along, and we're happy to see Eucalyptus working with Amazon. But look at the ecosystem and OpenStack looks impressive."

3. On How HP Will Differentiate from Other Cloud Providers: "With all due respect to Rackspace, we're a little larger and we have a global reach. And we'll address that reach in the cloud as well."

In terms of HP's secret sauce, "Nobody is ever going to turn away from a secure, business-driven, SLA_driven cloud service," said Singh. "I challenge you: Who is delivering that type of cloud today? Amazon Web Services has a lot of stickiness but folks are saying 'I need more tools and I need good, old fashion service."

HP will differentiate above the IaaS level, focusing on platform as a service, database as a service, and analytics as a service, he added. "Standing up VMs is so 2009. It's time to stand up quality clouds, tools, APIs, and service that scale. We'll offer a complete stack of services, and we'll give you a complete [cloud] marketplace on top of that."

5. On the real driver of cloud computing: "It's really about the Bring Your Own Device trend and HTML 5. Mobile devices need access to back-end services.? That's where the cloud enters the picture, he said. Plus, CIOs are seeking efficiency while trying to manage workloads. Again, the cloud enters the conversation, he said.

6. On the role of HP channel partners in the cloud: "We have a huge channel dependency. Sixty percent of our business is though the channel. We think that's an advantage, and having a partner- and channel-ready mindset is super important." Singh noted:

  • HP will help VARs to wrap cloud services and consulting services around IT sales.

  • For emerging cloud consultants, cloud integrators and cloud services providers, HP will offer cloud 101 education to the masses. And HP will keep its cloud designs open, Singh said. "We will never have a design that fails the lock-in test."

  • For MSPs, Singh sees tremendous upside. "The MSPs have done the heavy lifting already with their monthly recurring revenue focus. I think the cloud will usher in a complete renaissance in MSP land."


On the overall channel approach, Singh said: "We've been smart about all three segments -- VARs, MSPs and cloud. We're one of the few vendors who can speak to all of those partner types."

Can HP truly stand out from rival cloud providers? I'll be back with more thoughts soon, based on my conversation with Singh and other attendees here at the OpenStack conference.