Cloud VARs: HP's Public Cloud Push Better Late Than Never, But Hurdles Abound

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"Hallelujah! It's about time" is the response of some cloud computing VARs to HP's late, but inevitable leap into the public cloud arena.

And while cloud computing solution providers say that HP pledging allegiance to the public cloud is a step in the right direction and puts a stamp of validation on the cloud, HP has a tough road to hoe and that road could be a rocky one.

"To me it's kind of a no-brainer for them," said John Barnes, CTO of Model Metrics, a Chicago-based cloud and mobility solution provider. "But it seemed a little bit of a too late to the party."

Earlier this month HP CEO Leo Apotheker broke his and HP's silence and shared its cloud vision with the masses. HP's top dog unveiled a three-pronged cloud attack.

Apotheker said first, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company plans to help customers transition to the cloud and build cloud infrastructures and that it is working on a cloud platform, building an open cloud marketplace and prepping a cloud ecosystem.

The second component of HP's cloud strategy leverages the webOS, which HP gained as part of last year's acquisition of Palm. Apotheker said webOS will be a single interface to connect home, mobile and enterprise users via any device and eventually via printers and PCs, along with smartphones, tablets and others.

And third, HP will focus strongly on software to complete its cloud vision.

For VARs and solution providers that were born in the cloud, solution providers who built their businesses around cloud infrastructure and cloud services, Apotheker's and HP's public cloud plans prove that the cloud will soon be the de facto IT consumption model.

"It's a big step forward for the entire industry," said Ryan Nichols, head of product management and marketing for San Mateo, Calif.-based cloud solution provider Appirio.

David Hoff, co-founder and vice president of technology for Cloud Sherpas, an Atlanta-based cloud solution provider, agreed.

"It lends credibility and reinforces what we're seeing on a day-to-day basis that the cloud is the direction the industry is going," Hoff said.

Nichols recalled an industry event not too long ago where former HP CEO Mark Hurd dismissed the public cloud and spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about public cloud offerings. "The attitude was so at odds with cloud computing," Nichols said.

Enter Apotheker, who took over for Hurd as HP's chief executive late last year and whose first major order of HP business was to share HP's cloud vision with the world.

Nichols said as the discussion transforms from what the cloud is and why it makes sense to how companies can leverage it, Appirio and its customers are excited at the prospect of a major IT player like HP getting in the cloud mix. Still, there are reservations.

"We and our customers have a 'we'll believe it when we see it' attitude," he said. "But they're saying all the right things. They're not cloud-washing their data center stuff."

To make it in the cloud space, HP will have to be aggressive. It will have to partner with best of breed cloud players to enhance its existing offerings.

"HP is going to need some help to execute," Nichols said.

Next: HP's Cloud Plans Face Hurdles

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