HP includes BT Engage IT as cloud partner

19 Mar 2013

More details are emerging around HP’s cloud strategy, after the company added to its list of cloud partners with the signing of BT Engage IT and talked up its use of OpenStack architecture.

BT’s Engage IT arm is a service provider targeting mid-market and enterprise businesses. It has been designated as a cloud agile partner, one of 15 that HP has across Ireland and the UK. This type of agreement is typically aimed at a service provider that has historically come from the telco space and is offering managed services to companies looking to outsource part of their IT.

BT Managed Compute service will use HP’s CloudSystem platform to provide managed infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)  to help businesses move towards the cloud.

The move comes in response to customer demand in moving from private cloud infrastructures to third-party managed cloud environments, said Michael Clifford, cloud director for HP UK and Ireland.

Organisations in the private and public sectors are now pushing their IT departments to respond quicker to their needs, he claimed. “It’s now about service level agreements [SLAs] and the business is saying to IT – the business must go faster.”

Clifford said many customers are now looking at how to lower their costs by moving certain parts of their IT to an external cloud.

“What we’re seeing are workloads go into the private shared service cloud and we’re seeing a huge appetite from our customer base to explore the possibility of some, not all of those workflows to external cloud providers because they do it cheaper,” he said.

“Businesses will end up taking a hybrid approach. The certainty is, they’re going to be moving workloads between private, managed and public clouds depending on their reasons at the time. Maybe they will develop an app in the public cloud and it’s just an idea – it becomes a private cloud. It’s going to be a big shift of workload, constantly moving around those three ports,” said Clifford.

All HP partners run HP’s Matrix automation software, which is intended to provide a consistent architecture no matter whether customers are running private, hybrid or public cloud services.

“As an IT manager, if you take this path with us and you have a successful private cloud and you’re getting pushed to reduce costs and you want to go with a third party, you can burst from your private cloud into a managed cloud, and move workloads around as and when you want, and also repatriate them,” Clifford said.

The OpenStack platform

HP is also making great play of using the OpenStack platform. Clifford said this means businesses can use servers, storage or networking from other vendors and still avail of HP’s cloud services across public, private or hybrid models.

“There are vendors out there that are taking a proprietary and closed approach to this. We’re not. You can use somebody else’s hardware in your private cloud … we don’t force you to use all HP.

If you want to burst out from your private world to a third-party world, if you come with us, because Matrix has written APIs into the OpenStack world, you have got a complete choice of partners,” he told Siliconrepublic.com.

OpenStack is open source and not proprietary to any single company. Earlier this month, IBM announced it would also base its cloud services on the OpenStack platform in a deal some commentators said could shift the balance away from VMware, which has been strong in providing virtualisation technology in a market that usually predates a business moving to cloud services.

Clifford claimed there has been a lot of “smoke and mirrors” around other cloud offerings. “Openness has created a marketplace that has increased the buying power of the consumer. This is a utility-based computing model … I don’t think my customers would want to lock ourselves in,” he said.

Last year, HP signed Digital Planet as one of its CloudSystem partners. Clifford said agreements like these are aimed at delivering private cloud services for businesses.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic