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HP unveils Cloud Design Service despite customer caution

Carl Brooks, Technology Writer
HP has put the final touches on its cloud computing consulting services, but company officials say that many customers won't necessarily change a thing; they just want a plan.

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HP Cloud Design Service is the newest aspect of HP's cloud consulting services division. A three-part process, it starts with a workshop, continues with an eight to 12-week consulting engagement to build a roadmap for using cloud and concludes with Cloud Design Service, a "converged infrastructure strategy session" for the lucky customer. Analysts call the move a conservative but definitive step forward on cloud computing for HP.

"In the past, HP has tended to be very low key in promoting cloud," said Agatha Poon, senior analyst at the Yankee Group.

Poon said that HP's cloud consulting services were mostly a way for HP to signal to its customers that it was on top of cloud and ready for the future.

"For them, it's not a big opportunity. They already have a ready-made enterprise ecosystem," she said.

Cloud analysts presently pessimistic about cloud adoption
That attitude will match well with the numbers. Yankee Group research, along with other industry watchers, indicate that adoption of the cloud will be slow and steady in the enterprise, despite its popularity in Web-only businesses and startups. That's because enterprises are cautious about new models, such as cloud computing, and they aren't prone to impulse buys.

Many are still digesting virtualisation or recouping investments already made on data centre consolidation, big trends over that last half decade or more. Poon said HP knows this, since it was there for a piece of that action as well.

"They have done a lot of engagement with customers on consolidation and virtualisation," she said, and they understand that customers aren't eager to make big moves for no reason.

In the past, HP has tended to be very low key in promoting cloud.

Agatha Poon, senior analyst at the Yankee Group,

Yankee Group's report, "Clouds in 2010: Vendor Optimism Meets Enterprise Realities," reported that 75% of enterprises they surveyed are earmarking one third or less of their IT budgets for cloud, and the majority of that will go to the well-established Software as a Service (SaaS) marketplace.

The research firm TheInfoPro's Information Security Study found that security concerns remained the traditional enemy of cloud computing. 72% of security professionals remained very or extremely concerned about cloud security, and enterprises simply wouldn't take risks on where and what happened to their data, no matter how attractive the price.

HP's VP analyses cloud thought
Alan Wilson, VP of infrastructure consulting services at HP, said that cloud computing can be pretty straightforward for some customers.

"On many occasions, they don't need to change what they've got," said Wilson.

He's found that HP's preferred targets for the Cloud Design Service, large enterprises and services providers, want to have a firm grasp on cloud computing more than anything else. He said they've gradually grown into a mixed bag of IT services, usually starting with SaaS vendors like Salesforce.com, and they want, most of all, to get a hold of what's happening as the IT marketplace undergoes a fairly fundamental shift.

"They're more than curious," he said. "They know they need to have a plan, either to stay as they are or move on into cloud."

Wilson said the newly completed HP reference architecture would provide a plan for customers to develop private clouds or even use public cloud services that HP didn't sell if it was warranted.

"It contains all the components we suggest customers think about," he said.

In the mean time, slow and steady HP, which has announced a corporate strategy of eventually offering "Everything as a Service," will compete against IBM, Microsoft, Cisco/VMware/EMC and now Oracle for those juicy cloud-enabling infrastructure buys. Those companies are moving much more aggressively on cloud, opening application platforms, compute on-demand products, integrated 'cloud-in-a-box' data centre products and targeted services, and even consulting.

Carl Brooks is the Technology Writer at SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact him at cbrooks@techtarget.com.