Chatter about Hewlett-Packard's forthcoming public cloud grows louder. And I gotta admit: I like what I'm hearing. More and more of the buzz involves OpenStack -- the open source cloud computing platform. HP's apparent goal: Use OpenStack to launch a public cloud that also allows enterprise customers to build private clouds, if they so wish.

The HP Cloud strategy offers opportunity and risk:

  • HP Opportunity: By leveraging OpenStack, HP can assure channel partners and customers that they are leveraging an open, scalable cloud platform and avoiding vendor lock-in. HP will also benefit from OpenStack R&D performed by dozens of OpenStack community partners.

  • HP Risk: By leveraging OpenStack, HP will also make it easier for customers and partners to abandon the HP cloud and migrate to alternative services if HP's cloud services aren't top notch. One potential destination: Rackspace, which continues to make strategic hires to bolster OpenStack.


Wired has reported that HP's cloud will run VMware’s open-source Cloud Foundry atop OpenStack — and not Windows Azure, at least to start with. Leveraging OpenStack, HP hopes to help customers easily move applications between public and private clouds. It's somewhat similar to how Eucalyptus wants to offer a private cloud standard that's compatible with Amazon Web Services (the public cloud).

Meanwhile, Talkin' Cloud believes HP and Microsoft will continue to cooperate on a range of on-premise and cloud efforts, but it sounds like the HP Cloud and Microsoft Windows Azure are on a collision course to compete.

Reality Check


Still, let's keep in mind: Windows Azure actually exists and Microsoft is lining up channel partners and ISVs to plug into the system. Talkin' Cloud has frequently noted such as Quosal (quoting and sales proposal software for MSPs) and CA ARCserve (storage in the channel) plugging into Azure.

Can HP respond with a rival cloud that attracts channel partners and ISVs? The jury is still out on that question. HP has boatloads of channel partners, but most of them focus on HP hardware -- printers, servers, PCs, storage and more. HP has never been known as an ISV powerhouse. But by plugging into OpenStack, perhaps HP will have a pre-built community of software partners waiting to sign on.