HP Denies It Is Exiting Public Cloud Market

Hewlett Packard says it is not leaving the public cloud market.

The reaffirmation of the company's commitment to the HP Helion public cloud market is in response to a New York Times report that HP is "ceding" the market to cloud giants like Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft.

[Related: 10 Things You Don't Know About The HP Split ]

"HP is not leaving the public cloud market," said HP in a statement to CRN that mirrors a statement given earlier this week to VentureBeat. "We run one of the largest OpenStack technology-based public cloud out there. This has to do with not competing head-to-head with the big public cloud players."

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The statement comes just seven weeks after Marten Mickos, a widely respected open-source cloud proponent, handed over day-to-day responsibilities for the HP public cloud business to three new executives.

The statement that has raised a ruckus came from Bill Hilf, a former Microsoft Windows Azure product management executive, who now has day-to-day responsibility for driving the HP Helion cloud product strategy as a senior vice president of the HP cloud business.

’We thought people would rent or buy computing from us,’ said Hilf in an interview with The New York Times. ’It turns out that it makes no sense for us to go head-to-head (against the major public cloud companies).’

Hilf was unavailable for an interview. But his statement has some questioning whether HP's cloud strategy could change as it splits into two companies with the formal launch of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, its new $57.6 billion enterprise services, systems, software and infrastructure business, set for Nov. 1.

Mike Strohl, CEO of Concord, Calif.-based HP Platinum partner Entisys Solutions, which ranked No. 253 on the 2014 Solution Provider 500, said he is convinced that HP's commitment to the public cloud remains steadfast and that the company's cloud strategy has not changed.

"I am very involved with the HP Cloud business and know a lot of people at HP," said Strohl. "As far as I know, nothing has changed with HP's strategy, plan or how they are going to market. I am not sure where this comes from or why it is there. But this is the last thing anybody needs to be hearing, because it is a distraction."

Strohl, who said he expects his HP cloud consulting business to double over the next several years, said exiting the public cloud market would put a hole in HP's status as the premier enterprise hybrid cloud provider. "If you don't have a public cloud offering, then effectively you can't offer a hybrid cloud solution," he said. "And HP's entire strategy as they have presented it is all about delivering the full public, private and hybrid cloud platform."

Strohl sees the creation of Hewlett Packard Enterprise as accelerating the Helion hybrid cloud strategy. "That is going to accelerate HP ability to drive sales of public, private and hybrid cloud solutions," he said. "Public cloud is a natural part of the evolution of the next generation of the Hewlett Packard Enterprise business, not a detractor. With the credibility HP has in the enterprise, the public cloud is a big deal for them."

The public cloud business is also critical to HP's Flexible Capacity IT offering, which has opened the door for solution providers to offer customers the ability to rent public, private or hybrid computing assets, said Strohl. "That is a natural part of HP's utility computing story -- off premise, on premise, private or public cloud," he said. "That program is a big differentiator for HP. From a customer perspective, that program has real teeth to it."

Strohl said he sees Flexible Capacity growing significantly over the next year. "This is a door opener, and we are now getting real interest from customers in doing financial studies on Flexible Capacity," he said. "That is going to lead to sales, which will be enhanced by the ability to move workloads across the entire stack, from enterprise data center to public and private cloud."

Ultimately, Strohl said, he finds it difficult to build any scenario in which HP would exit the public cloud market. "It seems so highly unlikely based on everything we know and everything we have seen them do and know they are doing, that this would become a reality," he said.