Is HP's Helion the missing link in cloud evolution?
Since HP opened its doors in 1939, the company has been committed to open standards and interoperability. Its stewardship of the IEEE-488 (GP-IB and HP-IB) interface is a good example of this. HP’s patronage of the OpenDaylight Foundation’s open networking initiative has helped drive the Software-Defined Networking market and its commitment to OpenStack for the Cloud demonstrates HP’s support for open-source applications.
If we could start again and build cloud computing from the ground up, what would we change to deliver a better solution? What would a new cloud environment look like? Let’s imagine we could build the new structure and framework and call it Cloud 2.0. What would our core design goals be?
Let’s put the critical design goals of Cloud 2.0 in the spotlight:
- It is open and interoperable
- It is adaptable and easily managed
- It is secure and provides easy access to digital assets without performance barriers
- Service provisioning and capacity management are easily accomplished
Let’s examine the business drivers that could lead to creating a unified cloud ecosystem that offered users a vast array of choices while reducing change-based risk.
Open Standards would drive development of the new Cloud 2.0
Cloud 2.0 would be built on industry-ratified standards that ensure all systems were transparent and interoperable. This would enable comparative testing and benchmarking, permitting clients to select the vendor or solution that best fulfils their business need.
Ideally there would be an independent authority providing oversight and able to set uniform service levels that comply with accredited standards. Typical examples would include locating data in seismically stable environments or highly secure military zones.
Because the framework is built on open standards, embedded systems and dedicated appliances could be built with plug-and-play functionality coded into networking and authentication protocols. Unlike current architecture and topology, the new operating environment would support legacy applications and operating systems by providing easily customisable ‘hooks’ built into application interfaces. This would guarantee that integration between the hardware and software was seamless.
Reduce the high costs of ownership through plug-and-play
Legacy applications are often retained because migration costs are exorbitant and capital expenditure is difficult to justify. Cloud 2.0 would provide uniform middleware that could plug into legacy systems and leverage the enormous strides made in advanced virtualisation technology.
A subscription model to fund the start-up could be used to kick-start the initiative with major contributions coming from vendors who stand to gain from making the project viable.
The minimum functionality required would be to provide seamless migration of physical or virtual applications to and from the cloud, on demand. Users could migrate end-of-month processing to the cloud and produce reports in minutes. The process of ‘out processing’ would be easily configured by end users with the activation of cloud computing as simple as selecting a printer and hitting the enter key!
This general concept could be extended to mirroring and real-time replication with the connectivity protocols and security authentication embedded in the software. It’s feasible that autonomous functions could kick-in to load-balance computing tasks, depending on the level of resources required.
Cloud neutrality and independent indemnity to reduce risk
There are numerous cloud frameworks that claim to be ‘open’, ‘adaptable’ and ‘secure’. CIOs must weigh up their existing investment in physical and virtual technology against the risk of change that cloud migration poses.
Cloud vendors claim that they already meet the provisions required for elastic demand or ‘bursts’ of instantaneous compute power. What customers need is a comfort zone that enables them to select a cloud partner who is an accredited member of a cloud association. Stakeholders would be required to contribute financially to insure and indemnify themselves against data loss.
Underpinning the structure would be trust mechanisms that are open and independently audited. Professional indemnity that funds policy-holder remediation against unforseen events would certainly find favour with customers.
Independently audited service-level agreements
One of the issues that causes much angst amongst cloud customers is the inconsistency between vendor service level agreements (SLAs). The industry lacks independent auditing and monitoring of performance and compliance. In Cloud 2.0, a better approach would be to set minimum performance standards and price these services accordingly.
Classifying the value of your data and the guaranteed minimum seek time required would be a useful first step. High-performance computing would be allocated to solid state disk arrays while low-value archives could be stored on tape libraries.
At its most base level, the product selected by a customer would be based on the grade of service required. Independent value-added specialists could monitor performance metrics to ensure compliance with SLAs.
What is HP Helion?
HP Helion is a portfolio of cloud products and services that simplify how organisations build, manage and consume information in their IT environment. Helion combines the agility of cloud computing, the innovation of open source, and the security and reliability that organisations demand.
The vision for HP Helion is to become the flexible data fabric of an organisation and an integral part of their business operations.
Good strategy guided by a clear vision for the future
Hewlett Packard’s clarity of vision could reinvigorate the cloud market and cement the company’s market leadership. Gartner’s recent magic quadrant shows that HP now occupies the number two spot in global networking and their storage and converged infrastructure products continue to garner customer accolades. HP’s Helion has the potential to unify customers and change the way business deploys cloud solutions well into the future.
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