Questions Asked About HP’s Cloud Computing

HP is a relative latecomer to the cloud computing universe. That naturally raises questions about its ability to compete in an increasingly crowded field.

As reported at, “HP has found new energy in its efforts to be a top-tier player in the cloud business over the past few months with the addition of its Helion platform, a passel of exploitive apps, a handful of veteran executives and $1 billion in cloud development investments over the next two years.”

But then article questions what the future holds. “The hard work of creating a game-changing technology and a message that distinguishes it from competitors including IBM, Google and Microsoft lies ahead,” Senior Editor Ed Scannell writes.

According to, “HP has been on a mission as of late to expand the footprint of its Helion cloud services. In June, the computing giant launched the Helion Network, an effort that aims to combine ISVs, developers, integrators and resellers with the company’s cloud services. That announcement was followed a week later with the launch of Helion Managed Services, with HP positioning the platform as an alternative to owning and managing storage assets.”

Ed Anderson, an analyst with Gartner Inc., a research firm based in Stamford, Connecticut, told, “They still have work to do from a technology perspective. Helion is still based on OpenStack, which has a limited feature set. Their worldwide presence is pretty low relative to their data center footprint and their market execution is in the early stages. They haven’t quite found their legs yet.”

Writing at the cloud computing analysis website, Paul Burns gives a review of HP Helion (creatively based on the spaghetti Western, “The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly). Among the good, in his view, is “HP is still talking the talk and backing it up, at least to some degree (further commentary below), with $1 billion and planned investments. At least the company has not completely abandoned its efforts around IaaS.”

He then calls out HP for being in “catch-up mode” with regards to cloud computing. “Cloud computing, both public and private, remains a come from behind play for HP and the company continues to take the slow road. Planning to hire 200 more employees in Seattle over 18 months – employees that will need to be on boarded, brought up to speed and integrated with project teams – is not exactly the fast path to revenue and market share.

“Over time, I believe HP needs to do more organic development such as this. However, given the company’s current laggard position in the cloud computing marketplace, I believe it would be more prudent and fruitful to make a strategic acquisition in the public cloud space (e.g. similar to the acquisition of SoftLayer by IBM).”

Ugly, writes Anderson, relates to HP’s message. “HP has an increasingly confusing cloud story, with multiple business units generating overlapping solutions. Trying to round them up under a single sub brand called Helion won’t help much. However, over time, the company could move to improve this situation,” he writes.

Anderson doesn’t like how past cloud customers are being treated. “Still, HP seems to be quickly sweeping past offerings that compete with Helion under the rug. Until very recently, HP said this about its existing OpenStack-based distribution: ‘Based on OpenStack technology, HP Cloud OS provides the foundation for the HP Cloud common architecture across private, public, and hybrid cloud delivery. It is the world’s first OpenStack based cloud technology platform for hybrid delivery.’

“A bit of a stretch in the first place, but how does it reconcile with these new words about Helion: ‘The first enterprise-grade OpenStack distribution from HP.’ You had an OpenStack distribution that you claimed formed the foundation of your cloud efforts. Now you have different one. How are these products reconciled for existing users? What is the future of Cloud OS? Why should anyone believe that a new OpenStack distribution will be any more successful?”

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping,, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.