HP launches data center as a service; The cloud meets outsourcing

Hewlett-Packard on Monday plans to launch an effort to offer data center as a service to large enterprise customers.The move is notable for the following reasons:Cloud infrastructure has been primarily focused on small- to mid-sized businesses that have been leveraging companies like Amazon Web Services.

Hewlett-Packard on Monday plans to launch an effort to offer data center as a service to large enterprise customers.

The move is notable for the following reasons:

  • Cloud infrastructure has been primarily focused on small- to mid-sized businesses that have been leveraging companies like Amazon Web Services.
  • Large enterprises can wrap in HP's service along with existing outsourcing contracts.
  • The economy is slowing and IT managers may be able to expand their infrastructure by shifting from the capital spending line (build your own data center) to the operating expense line (a service subscription).

HP is betting that its service will gain traction among customers trying to create one instance of SAP as they migrate to SAP 6.0.

HP calls the effort Adaptive Infrastructure as a Service (AIaaS), but it's basically a data center you can subscribe to. The service will be powered by HP's existing data centers. HP has been consolidating its own data centers and plans to cook them down to six when the consolidation is done. U.S. customers will subscribe to HP's new paired data centers in Atlanta (the one HP CIO Randy Mott runs the business on) and European customers will have a dedicated facility outside of Paris, says Pat Adamiak, vice president of portfolio, marketing and alliances at HP Services.

Also see: Dan Kusnetzky: HP and the next generation data center, Heather Clancy: HP stakes claim in energy-efficiency services, software

Adamiak outlined the four flavors of its data center as a service lineup optimized for various situations a large company would face. Each service configuration, which promises 99.9 percent uptime like Amazon does, has been tested with unnamed customers. Among the services:
  • A compute intensive data center service for companies that need a lot of processing power, say oil companies that need geothermal analysis and content companies that need to render movies.
  • A version that is optimized for SAP 6.0. I'd reckon that this configuration could be a popular choice. Many companies have three or four flavors of SAP in their shops and they are all trying to get to the latest version in one instance. There are a lot of hardware planning costs that go along with such a move. By cutting over to and SAP 6.0 rollout with a data center as a service approach you could save time and money since you could in theory lop off older SAP instances.
  • A service optimized for Microsoft Exchange with uptime, failover and archiving.
  • A data center as a service optimized for Windows, Unix and Linux. Under this arrangement, customers would bring their own apps since "a lot of customers like to control the application," says Adamiak.

Adamiak adds that HP will add more configurations as a service depending on customer demand. The service differs from a traditional data center hosting arrangement where you essentially rent a facility. HP's model is to sell data center access via subscription.

Where things get sticky is pricing. HP has chosen to offer its data center as a service as an option to its existing outsourcing clients. As a result, there isn't some magic sheet outlining what the costs are relative to other offerings. I was curious to see how HP stacked up compared to Amazon and a multitude of other vendors. Admittedly it's an apples and oranges comparison because few are enterprise class, but a spec sheet outlining at least a few scenarios would have been helpful. "It's hard to quote a simple price," says Adamiak. "But it's competitive with external offerings."

The initial game plan for HP is to target large companies, but eventually the company is likely to move downstream. That means it is likely to bump into the following cast of characters:

Among other notable items in a bevy of HP data center news:

  • HP is offering data center design services via the acquisition of EYP Mission Critical Facilities. In a nutshell, HP will design your data center for you.
  • Consolidation and virtualization help. HP also has launched data center consolidation services for companies looking to pare the number of data centers in operation. A similar service provides customers with virtualization roadmaps.
  • Software dubbed HP Insight Dynamics-VSE. This software is a suite that allows customers to analyze and optimize physical and virtual resources. The software, which supports "multi-vendor hypervisor technologies," will be available in the second quarter ending June 30.
  • HP's automation software--Operations Orchestration (largely acquired in the Opsware deal)--will automate physical and virtual infrastructures.

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