HP is not one to do things by halves: The company has been slowly expanding its cloud computing offerings during the past year or so, and last week it made a monster announcement covering a raft of new products and services it is bringing market -- both for enterprises and the service providers that supply them. So many new announcements, in fact, that it's hard to know where to start.
The most exciting news is about CloudSystem Matrix 7.0. This is the core operating environment behind HP's CloudSystem, HP's integrated hardware and software platform for building clouds. The new version, 7.0, of CloudSystem Matrix includes the "out-of-the-box" capability to burst into an external private of public cloud for a specific template-defined service. In addition, it can carry out automatic on-demand provisioning of HP 3PAR storage when required.
The company also announced a new Cloud Protection Program, which is designed to deliver the same level of security to a hybrid cloud as a private Internet-enabled IT environment can achieve, and it launched Enterprise Cloud Services - Compute, which automates the distribution of application workloads across multiple servers to improve application performance. Customers will also be able to improve data protection using new backup and restore options, and they can provision and manage additional virtual local area networks in their cloud environment. A new HP proof of concept program allows clients to evaluate the service for existing workloads prior to purchasing it.
Two further announcements relate to SAP and Microsoft: Enterprise Cloud Services for SAP Development and Sandbox Solution enable customers to evaluate and prototype SAP Enterprise Resource Planning software in a virtual private cloud, and Cloud Applications Services for Windows Azure is designed to help accelerate the development or migration of applications to the Microsoft Windows Azure platform-as-a-service offering.
HP also made a whole slew of educational announcements as part of its ExpertONE program, including certifications as Cloud Architect, Cloud Integrator and Master Cloud Integrator. There's also HP Storage Consulting Services for Cloud, which aims to help customers understand their storage requirements for private clouds, and HP CFO Round Roundtables. These are designed to help less technical C-level officers understand the benefits and risks associated with the cloud.
For service providers, the company announced CloudSystem integrations with Alcatel-Lucent technology. This enables communications services providers to deliver cloud services using carrier-class networks and IT. The combination of IT infrastructure, software and telecommunications-grade network lets communications services providers automate the provisioning and management of cloud resources through a highly reliable network, HP said.
Lastly, the company announced an expansion to CloudAgile, HP's partnering program it announced in June, to boost the use of HP storage in cloud computing services offered by service providers. The company has signed up four European service provider partners, and it also unveiled the first services providers offering private hosted clouds built using CloudSystem.
So what does it all mean? The truth is that when HP comes out with one of these storms of announcements, it's impossible to evaluate anything in any great detail until the dust settles. But at the very least it shows that HP is taking the cloud seriously, from hardware and software to partner programs to training. Customers that throw their lot in with HP can take confidence from all this -- they will certainly be well looked after.
Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.