HP promotes its open-source cloud, now rebranded as Helion
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May 7, 2014
At a cost of one billion dollars, HP has finally unveiled its two-year campaign promoting its open-source cloud,
now rebranded as Helion. The company says it will be spending on R&D, the development of cloud products and hiring
“hundreds” of experts in a new OpenStack professional services practice.
Various experts are being hired to cover planning advice, building and migration, and operations
Underpinning this will be a tried and tested HP-branded version of the OpenStack distro released
in two packages - one free, the other commercial.
The Helion OpenStack Community edition is the free version but will feature relatively limited
functionality, for use in pilot programs and testing.
The commercial edition of the HP-branded code is promised for sometime in June, and that will
have been tested to scale to thousands of servers. It will support third-party plug-ins, come with
management tools, and run with a choice of hypervisors and hardware.
According to Hewlett-Packard, Helion OpenStack follows the core of the OpenStack trunk.
A development platform that’s based on Cloud Foundry will also be announced. Called the HP
Helion Development Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), HP’s development service is due for a preview
release in the third quarter of the year.
Additionally, HP is offering Helion a financial umbrella should patent sharks come knocking at the door.
HP will promise indemnification against IP infringement claims to direct customers and customers
of service providers and resellers on Helion.
The technology and legal push are to pave the way for a rollout of Helion OpenStack-based cloud
services in 20 of HP’s 80 data centres in the next 1 1/2 year.
Also, HP’s OpenStack will be “tightly integrated” with its server, storage and networking platforms
including its 3Par, StorVirtual VSA and SDN Controller.
Until now, HP had been building OpenStack code into only certain products, such as certain
ARM-based servers in its Moonshot range.
In the near future, HP says that ordinary ProLiant servers will ship with Helion OpenStack
software and when you boot up they’ll search for their nearest Helion cloud.
Bill Hilf, HP's vice president of converged cloud products and services, says his company
is making a bold bet with the $1 billion OpenStack investment.
“It’s a huge part or our strategic initiative for Hewlett Packard and a big part of HP’s turnaround,
frankly,” he added.
“Overall, so many vendors put these big numbers out there as we were prepared for this, we wanted
to be clear this is not some fictional thing.”
On indemnification, he said enterprise customers want a “large and trusted” brand standing
behind OpenStack should they be attacked by a patent troll, which happens almost everyday in the
“It’s all about giving enterprise customers the confidence that if something were to happen, they
are protected,” he said. “It’s all about confidence and the assurance that there is a vendor
In other IT news
AMD said earlier today that it will create pin-compatible 64-bit x86 and ARM SoCs in a new initiative that it's calling Project SkyBridge.
Overall, AMD has licensed the ARMv8 architecture and will design its own home-grown ARM-based processors.
"AMD is the only company that can bridge ARM and the x86 ecosystems," said AMD's general manager of global business units Lisa
Su at the announcement event in San Francisco yesterday.
"We said we were going to be ambidextrous," said AMD CEO Rory Read, also at the event. "We were going to do something that no one
else on earth could do."
Pin compatibility, Su said, will bring "tremendous flexibility to the market," seeing as how an OEM can design and build a single
motherboard that can be fitted with either an x86 or ARM SoC.
"It really is a design framework," she said. "It's a family of products that we'll be putting out starting first in 20-nanometer technology."
The first products in that family, planned for next year, will be what AMD has dubbed APUs – accelerated processing units – and will include
AMD's Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU technology.
Both the ARM and x86 parts will be built around a heterogeneous system architecture HSA. AMD currently supports HSA in its "Kaveri"
desktop and notebook chip, and its "Berlin" Opteron server chip, demoed at the Red Hat Summit in April.
On the x86 side of the Project SkyBridge ambidexterity, the APUs will be based on a next-generation "Puma+" compute cores, an
update to the "Puma" cores announced last week in the rollout of the low-power, low-cost "Beema" and "Mullins" SoCs.
On the ARM side, Su said, "We're going to optimize 64-bit ARM Cortex A57, again in the same footprint as we have our x86 capability."
These low-power ARM-based APUs will also be AMD's first HSA-capable chips that support Android.
The first Project SkyBridge APUs will be targeted at the embedded and client markets. "It's an opportunity for us to help customers
innovate, differentiate, and also reduce their time to market," Su said.
For some markets (she used networking as an example) Project SkyBridge will allow customers to simplify their code base from one
that now also includes MIPS and PowerPC devices, to just x86 and ARM running on a single motherboard design.
"It's just way too expensive to support all of those disparate architectures across a single ecosystem or several ecosystems," Su
After the first Project SkyBridge appeared in 2015, the following year would see AMD moving beyond such ARM-designed and licensed
compute cores as the ARM Cortex-A57, to create its own ARM-chip designs.
"The very key piece of differentiation for us," Su said, "is really around developing our own ARM cores. So today we are also
announcing that we are an ARM architectural licensee, and that we are well on our way with developing our own ARM cores," the first
one being code-named "K12".
AMD ARM chips, Su said, will find their way into everything from embedded to servers, and will be "a huge addition to our semi-custom
As AMD CTO Mark Papermaster, also at the event explained, the effort involved in both Project SkyBridge and K12 is aided by AMD's
ability to mix and match its intellectual property in CPU, GPU, APU, fabric, and other areas.
The company's product-development cycle, he said, has been "re-engineered from top to bottom," and will eventually result in a
"from-scratch, ground-up, optimized design of the ARM-64 architecture marrying all of that deep expertise we have at AMD."
It's all about simplification, reusability, and flexibility, Papermaster said, giving as an example on-chip fabric. "It doesn't
care if you're x86 or ARM," he said. "An ambidextrous network-on-chip will put all these pieces together – our IP, the IP of our partners,
IP of a third party, etc."
Amid all of this talk about ARM, Papermaster took a moment to reassure Intel ISA devotees. "Of course we're not backing off x86," he
reassured them. "That's the beauty of this ambidextrous approach."
In other IT news
The battle between Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft for the public cloud gets more and more attention these days, but
global managed services provider Dimension Data has thrown in its own hat into the equation with a new hybrid Windows Server cloud.
The company's plan is to offer enterprise customers the chance to migrate a legacy Windows app into a cloudy environment where
it can be given the managed services treatment, complete with service level agreement.
That SLA, says David Hanrahan, general manager of Dimension Data Cloud Services, is likely to be rather more granular than the guarantees
offered by a pure-play public cloud.
“If everyone's Cloud apps had been designed to run natively, that would be great,” he said. “The cost of re-platforming them
is significant. We are getting traction to manage them and patch them.”
“Clients want to be able to migrate legacy 32-bit software to the cloud,” he said, adding that he feels many enterprises will take
their first steps into the cloud in that manner.
That's perhaps an odd observation given the likes of AWS repeatedly point to very considerable adoption by big business, but perhaps
also not surprising given he's selling just that kind of service.
In Hanrahan's defence, he also said that this kind of work is as balance-sheet friendly as its traditional engagements, thanks largely
to a “build once and redeploy at will” approach to building out its cloudy offerings.
Perhaps surprising a bit is that Dimension Data isn't alone in this kind of market. The likes of Fujitsu and CSC also operate
clouds on very large scales, offering the elasticity of pure-play public clouds with a promise of rather more grooming, feeding
and SLA backing.
Dimension Data certainly thinks that there's plenty of upside in this kind of market-- last week it said it can quadruple its
US $1 billion data centre business by 2018.
Some of that growth is expected to come from acquisitions like one announced today-- IT services company Nexus today came under
the 'DiData' umbrella for an undisclosed sum, bringing with it 19 offices across the United States.
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