HP Rolls Out Global Network For Helion Cloud Services

Hewlett-Packard Tuesday kicked off the first day of its Discover conference by launching the Helion Network, a global open network aimed at fostering a new generation of open-standards-based hybrid cloud services.

Based on HP's OpenStack Helion Cloud platform, HP said the new member-governed organization will provide a secure open-standards network with data sovereignty, workload interoperability and high quality of service around the globe with workload portability in on-premise and off-premise cloud environments.

As part of the Helion Network offensive, HP also is significantly increasing its contributions to Neutron, an OpenStack project to provide networking as a service. The company plans to launch a pilot program for the Helion Network in the fourth quarter simultaneously with general availability for its HP Helion OpenStack distribution and Helion Development Platform.

[Related: HP Unleashes 12 New Enterprise Products At HP Discover ]

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Mike Strohl, CEO of Entisys Solutions, a Concord, Calif.-based HP Platinum partner, said he sees the Helion Network driving opportunity for partners as a result of HP's big investments to drive workload portability in federated clouds around the world.

"Now that I can expand my conversation with customers globally, my opportunities for sales and profits expands exponentially," he said. "The combination of things that are happening with Helion are going to open up all kinds of opportunities from a sales, consulting and services perspective. The ability to create annuity-based services for my customers increases with this because Helion is a hybrid, on-premise and off-premise conversation that allows us to be more strategic with our customers."

Strohl predicts that Helion products and services could conservatively account for 20 percent of his sales and services over the next several years.

"This is going to be a core part of our strategy," he said. "HP has a really good story to tell that puts us in the position of being a thought leader for our customers. This is going to allow us to become a strategic partner for customers, defining collectively from an architectural standpoint how they build out their journey to the cloud."

Al Chien, executive vice president of Dasher Technologies, a Campbell, Calif.-based HP Platinum partner that has been selling HP public cloud services for the past two years, said he sees the open-standards-based workload portability for Helion as a big differentiator.

"For us, one of the biggest selling features is the ability to move pretty transparently from public to private or vice versa because of OpenStack," he said. "That allows customers that have a private cloud to easily burst into the HP OpenStack cloud."

Many customers don't realize what kind of lock-in they face if they choose a proprietary cloud provider, said Chien. "It's like a set of handcuffs," he said. "It can be pretty painful. You've got to hire a lot of smart engineers to get out. It is very expensive."

HP Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Martin Fink told CRN that HP's commitment to open standards is more than just lip service. He pointed to HP's standing as the No. 1 contributor to OpenStack, according to the latest measurements from Stackalytics, which measures OpenStack contributions.

"I want to be clear this is more than just putting a network pipe between two service providers and saying it is all good," said Fink. "This is really about having that common technology platform at the cloud layer with the Helion OpenStack [distribution] allowing all of the service providers and channel partners to be able to leverage our investments so that we can build a network of customers that can interoperate together."

Fink envisions an organization built on the same principles as the open-source movement. "This will be a unique commercial operating model with a permanent steering committee of network members to manage the alliance in order to drive future commercial and operating model improvements," he said.

NEXT: The Global Reach Of The Helion Network

Ultimately, Fink said that kind of community and partner ecosystem will drive economic opportunity for members powered by interoperability and the global reach of the Helion Network.

Cloud solution providers, for example, doing application development could write a management plug-in or service for the network and it instantly could be leveraged across the entire platform. "Eventually what we want to get to is having an economic model where all the different players that are part of the Helion Network are able to share in the economic goodness that comes out it," said Fink.

HP is targeting a broad array of service providers, ISVs, systems integrators and channel partners anxious to avoid vendor lock-in as they build out next-generation cloud services. The company said the Helion Network will build on HP's Cloud Agile Service Provider Program, which already has 115 service providers around the world and 1,500 private cloud deployments. Among the participants pledging support to the network are AT&T, Intel, Hong Kong Telecom and Synapsis.

For cloud service providers, cloud builders, system integrators and solution providers of all stripes, Helion will offer "tremendous opportunity" to leverage the huge investments HP is making in building the Helion Network, said Fink.

"They can actually choose to be part of the Helion Network and provide hosted services that are very specific to the customer solutions they provide," said Fink. "So if they provide solutions to a doctor, dentist or lawyer's office they have a platform that allows them to deliver that. Or they can take our CloudSystem cloud hardware/software bundle and deliver that. And they make money not just because of points on the hardware/software but through integration services. There is a tremendous need for OpenStack services and integration."

Jonathan Donaldson, general manager of the Software Defined Infrastructure Group for Intel, a member of the Helion Network, said he sees the Helion Network opening the door for more customers to derive the benefits of an open hybrid cloud environment without having to make big investments in technical talent.

"We think this pushes OpenStack significantly forward into the enterprise and CSP [cloud service provider] space," he said. "This is going to allow them to deploy OpenStack easier and with a lot less people. This is good for everyone."

Donaldson sees HP's OpenStack effort releasing a pent-up demand for hybrid self-service cloud offerings. "As HP Helion picks up steam and builds momentum with services and support, I think they will have a nice impact on the private cloud space. They are staying true to the OpenStack APIs and the OpenStack community, and that will carry over very cleanly to the hybrid cloud space."

Jason Cohen, global chief information officer for Diversified Agency Services, a New York-based communications company that partners with HP for IT services for 700 offices in 71 countries, said he is "hugely" committed to the Helion Network. "It's one-stop shopping," he said. "At the end of the day, the more I can stick within the standards the better it is for me. If I am chasing 100 different vendors or 100 different solutions or 100 different standards it makes my job 10 times harder."