Moonshot to run HP's OpenStack distribution

HP describes single OpenStack platform that runs across public and private clouds, including Moonshot

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Source: agitprop, via Flickr

HP plans to chat during its Discover conference this week about its OpenStack distribution and the fact that it runs its private and public cloud. That’s really non-news, given that it was a pretty safe assumption that the company was using the same software to run both.

But the big picture, plus the actual news – that Moonshot will run the same HP OpenStack OS – points to larger trends in the cloud world.

I’ve been hearing recently a shift in the discussion around hybrid clouds. Firstly, hybrid now is a given. Most people agree that most businesses will run or are already running apps that live in the public cloud but draw on enterprise data found in a private cloud. That’s a change from a year or so ago when people were still wondering how extensive hybrid would become.

But hybrid isn’t totally it. David Linthicum, a consultant at Cloud Technology Partners, aptly calls the vision for the future “multicloud.” By that he means that most businesses will use a variety of cloud services – private, public, PaaS, SaaS – and some of them won’t necessarily talk to others in the way a hybrid architecture does.

Back to HP. Its talk of a single OS spanning its offerings is an attempt to support this vision by making it easier for businesses to move apps across public and private networks, including those built using its new Moonshot servers.

“People will be a lot less focused on the delivery model,” said Saar Gillai, senior vice president and general manager of converged cloud at HP. “That’s part of what we are focused on – making the delivery model less of an issue.”

He means that businesses don’t want to have to commit to either public or private from the start. “It’s about giving customer choice up front,” he said. The idea is for businesses to know that they may start by using private and bursting to public but in the future migrating fully to public might make sense.

This isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s the idea behind OpenStack in general, which is to allow developers to move apps among clouds and across service providers with ease. And thus it points to a flaw in HP’s plan.

Like other enterprise vendors including Microsoft and VMware, HP can serve customer public, private and hybrid needs. And like those other vendors, doing so locks customers into HP. That’s because OpenStack has yet to sort out compatibility issues that would – but don’t yet – let businesses move a workload from, say, HP’s public cloud to a private cloud built using Rackspace’s products.

They're working on it and interoperability will hopefully come to OpenStack with time. But in the meantime, the lack of interoperability makes it hard for HP to argue that it solves the vendor lock in problem, although it tries. “The customers I talk to say they’re burned by lock in,” Gillai said.

Still, he was right when he said that “the message of OpenStack having one platform ecosystem and not having to pay a VMware or Microsoft tax is a strong message that customers are aligned with.” Indeed, an additional benefit to OpenStack is that it could wind up being less expensive and more feature-rich than the proprietary offerings from Microsoft, VMware or others.

HP is also trying to make it easier for customers to give OpenStack a try. It announced a new Sandbox service that lets customers install HP’s Cloud OS in seven clicks for free to evaluate how it works.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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