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What does HP think it's doing?

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | April 24, 2015
Winston Churchill once said of Russia, "It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." Now, I don't deal with international politics. I just write about technology. But when I've looked at HP lately I've been left thinking of its strategy as, well, "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

Winston Churchill once said of Russia, "It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." Now, I don't deal with international politics. I just write about technology. But when I've looked at HP lately I've been left thinking of its strategy as, well, "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

What prompted this thought was HP's recent public cloud dance. First, it seemed that HP, as far as The New York Times and anyone else who followed up on the story could tell, was going to walk away from the public cloud.

Why? Because, Bill Hilf, HP's senior vice president for HP Cloud, said, "We thought people would rent or buy computing from us. It turns out that it makes no sense for us to go head-to-head." It sure sounded like HP had looked at the idea of taking on Amazon Web Services, Google Compute, Microsoft Azure, etc. and decided there wasn't enough business left for the company to make a go of it.

That wasn't to say that HP was giving up on its OpenStack-based Helion cloud program or its cloud hardware, such as its new, inexpensive cloud line. No, it just seemed that HP had decided to cut its losses before putting more than a toe into the highly competitive public cloud market.

Well, that's what I thought anyway.

Then, a few days later, Hilf said that "a quote of mine in the media was interpreted as HP is exiting the public cloud, which is not the case."

That still struck me as a little ... unclear, so I asked HP for a bit more light on the subject. HP PR replied, "Bill's quote was interpreted as HP is exiting the public cloud, which is not the case. HP's commitment to its cloud strategy remains unchanged since our launch of HP Helion nearly one year ago."

So, HP is still in the public cloud business. I guess it's just not going to be in the cloud business as much as its biggest rivals are?

I really don't know. Is it having trouble getting OpenStack to scale? I like OpenStack a lot, but no one who really works with it will tell you that deploying it is easy. Or is HP still figuring out what to do with the other big-time, open-source cloud company it bought, Eucalyptus?

I thought that HP acquiring Eucalyptus was an odd move at the time. Seven months later, I still don't know what to make of it. I like Eucalyptus' people, but making its CEO, Marten Mickos, head of HP's OpenStack-centric Helion cloud? It's a head-scratcher.

 

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