HP Cloud Chief Mickos: We Don't Fear The AWS Reaper, We Embrace It

When it comes to competing with Amazon Web Services, Hewlett-Packard's cloud chief Marten Mickos thinks the best tactic is to work with the cloud juggernaut instead of fighting it.

That's why HP isn't out there trying to pry customers away from AWS by claiming its cloud is superior, or pretending like the Genghis Khan of the public cloud market doesn't exist.

Instead, HP has decided that making its cloud infrastructure compatible with AWS is the best course of action for its many customers who use the public cloud giant's services.

[Related: HP Drops EC2 API Support, Puts Stake In Ground Against Amazon's 'Spider Web']

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"I think the key is to not be intimidated by AWS, because if you let that happen, you must flee or fight," Mickos said in an interview with ReadWrite published Wednesday.

Mickos said HP is neither fighting nor fleeing the competitive threat AWS poses, but, rather, is using AWS compatibility as a sort of differentiator.

This means HP can pitch its cloud portfolio -- which includes private cloud, managed cloud and public cloud -- as something no other vendor offers, according to Mickos.

"If you can calmly observe and accept the situation as it is, you will also find amazing business opportunities that AWS and others are not pursuing," Mickos told ReadWrite.

HP's stance on AWS has changed dramatically in a relatively short time. HP dropped support for AWS EC2 APIs in its public cloud in December 2013 in order to prevent HP customers from getting locked into AWS.

"AWS believes everything eventually is going to be public cloud, and HP strongly believes that the world is hybrid," Roger Levy, vice president of technical operations for HP Public Cloud, told CRN at the time.

That stance changed last September when HP acquired Eucalyptus, a private cloud software vendor with close ties to AWS. Mickos, who was Eucalyptus' CEO, joined HP in the deal.

AWS has worked with Eucalyptus to develop a common set of APIs that enable workloads to be moved back and forth between its public cloud and Eucalyptus private clouds.

HP has decided to maintain that bridge because, in the long term, as Mickos believes, keeping AWS close is better than freaking out about it.

Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, No. 234 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, applauded Mickos for driving a cloud services strategy that will open more doors for HP solution provider partners.

"Moving to a strategy where HP is tying into the existing AWS infrastructure and customer base is the smartest way to scale the business and provide compelling solutions for customers," said Venero. "There is no question about it. What this allows us as partners is to take the existing AWS infrastructure, add the enhancements that HP is bringing to the market and then integrate the two. It's a better solution for us. It gives us more flexibility."

Venero said the HP strategy strikes at the heart of the solution provider business model as an agnostic provider of IT solutions to customers. "This approach allows us to be more agnostic than proprietary," he said.

HP's strategy shift is a game-changer that is sure to gain the company more traction in the cloud services market, said Venero. "AWS has a huge ecosystem out there already," he said. "The question becomes, 'Do you want to fight that gorilla and try to knock it out?' That would be an extremely difficult task."

Additional reporting By Steven Burke.