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HP talks cloud delivery options, the importance of OpenStack, how it competes on price

John Dix, Brandon Butler | Nov. 26, 2014
An in-depth conversation with Bill Hilf, Senior Vice President of Product and Service Management for HP Cloud, about where Helion fits in, cloud consumption models and coming change.

One way we're addressing the specific networking needs for one of our customer segments, communication service providers, is through a partnership with Wind River to integrate their carrier grade technologies into Helion OpenStack. This will provide communications service providers with an open source based cloud platform to meet their demanding reliability requirements and accelerate their transition to NFV deployments. All within our open source model and keeping OpenStack API compatibility.

Are all Helion private clouds based on OpenStack or do you sell some non-OpenStack private clouds as well?

Historically we had a private cloud infrastructure-as-a-service offering called Matrix that was not open source. This was actually before I joined. There are still customers that use that, but over time our plan is to evolve that product with our Helion OpenStack distribution. We will do it in a thoughtful manner so we don't force customers to rip and replace. But going forward we've made a company-wide commitment to OpenStack.

It's a fundamental bet. We actually got asked once at a very senior meeting, "What's Plan B if OpenStack doesn't work out?" I said there is no Plan B. If you have a Plan B, having lived through this at Microsoft, you end up hedging, doing things to secure the option. So you have to go all in if you really want a platform to take off. So it's a big, fundamental decision for us and a fundamental focus that we have to make OpenStack be what we need it to be for our enterprise customers. There's not a lot of "let's sit around and wait for it to evolve."

There are certainly still some big challenges with OpenStack, but we have many customers who are happily running 100s nodes, many thousands of VMs, in OpenStack for a private cloud and getting great benefit today.

In terms of hypervisor support, do you guys focus on one hypervisor or support a bunch?

At every layer we need to give customers choice. So we support KVM, which is the default people use in most cases, but with this release of our Helion OpenStack we support ESX and very shortly we'll support Hyper-V.

But at each layer we support choice. At the hardware layer, for example, we support our HP gear but have a certification test for third parties on non-HP gear, and a set of tests and benchmarks we give to third-party OEMs to validate against. We know we're not going to sell an HP server with every software sale that's not reality.

Then even further up the stack we have multiple programming languages and frameworks people can choose from, from Python or Ruby or Java or .NET. That polyglot environment is important for us.


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