Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) has bolstered its Helion cloud computing strategy with the acquisition of Stackato platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technology originally developed by ActiveState.

Like HP’s existing PaaS offerings, Stackato is built on top of the open source Cloud Foundry PaaS. Jay Jamison, vice president of Helion product management at HP, said that HP has not yet decided how it will bring Stackato technology to market, but the overall goal is to converge the two platforms initially within the managed PaaS services offering that HP markets mainly to developers.

HP and the cloud

As early entrant into the PaaS category, Jamison the tooling that ActiveState developed around its PaaS platform will help HP accelerate its own road map for delivering cloud services.

Less clear is just how those cloud services will be brought to market. At present, HP like most cloud service providers offers separate infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and PaaS offerings. But recently HP has begun to more aggressively bundle those two services together. It’s not clear, says Jamison, that IaaS and PaaS offerings will ever be unified into a single product offering. But it is clear that customers often want to couple the acquisition of IaaS and PaaS services.

Jamison added that HP has not yet decided how much of the Stackato technology it might wind up contributing back to the Cloud Foundry project; although he did note that HP historically has been very aggressive about doing so.

PaaS consolidation looming?

For solution providers the acquisition of the Stackato PaaS platform suggests that something of a consolidation in the PaaS category may now be under way. As Cloud Foundry continues to mature as a PaaS platform vendor focus is quickly shifting to finding ways to add value at management layers above the PaaS and IaaS level.

Naturally, with HP getting off to something a late start in the race to deliver cloud services, acquisitions of technologies such as Stackato can go a long way to closing the gap with more mature PaaS offerings that right now enjoy much greater market share than HP currently has in the cloud.

At the same time, however, as far as PaaS adoption in the cloud goes it’s still relatively early. Most of the usage of PaaS in the cloud has been by startup vendors launching new commercial applications. Traditional enterprise IT organizations that are serviced by HP and its partners are just now gearing up to make a shift that will take them years to execute.

In the meantime, via the acquisition of the Stackato PaaS environment HP is at least once again signaling it’s going to be in the PaaS game for the long haul.