HP Seeks to Reign in the Cloud

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For all the changes the cloud is about to visit on the enterprise, many of the side-effects have yet to draw equal scrutiny.

One of these is how the vendor community is being shaken up by both the challenges and opportunities the cloud brings. But with each new evolution of the various cloud platforms that are taking shape, it's becoming clear that the old days of simple technology one-upmanship are over and that the cloud is creating new rivalries and new areas of cooperation.

This came into clearer focus this week with the launch of HP's new CloudSystem and Enterprise Cloud Services-Compute offerings, which aim to secure the inner workings of organizations' internal cloud infrastructure and tie it to the public services that HP is building.

With CloudSystem, users gain an integrated set of BladeSystem servers, along with storage, switches, management and virtualization-everything needed to quickly set up a private cloud. On that level, HP is still fighting the classic battle with other top platform providers: IBM, EMC, Cisco and Oracle. But with the new services offering, the company is targeting the growing number of cloud providers led by Google and Amazon, and it's here that the company may find the going a little tougher. HP is not completely new to the services game, and it has made a good first impression with its 99.9 percent reliability guarantee, but it is treading on some unsteady ground against competitors that aren't exactly hurting for cash flow.

Of course, few can accuse HP of not having a clear-eyed view of the forces shaping market trends. Take the company's approach to data warehousing-an expensive proposition if ever there was one. So much so that it was difficult to justify continued development of the Neoview system, which HP wisely mothballed earlier this week in favor of a joint approach with Microsoft.

On a fundamental level, IT infrastructure will still be driven by processing power, capacity, throughput and other measures of physical prowess. But moving forward, overall productivity will be derived from vendors' ability to leverage their technological strengths both inside the data center and in the world at large.

It could be that the titans of old will continue to hold sway over enterprise development in the cloud, or someone new could come along with a completely unexpected game plan.