Friday, January 15, 2010

Private Azure Clouds Float the $250 Million HP/Microsoft Agreement of 1/13/2010

Microsoft’s Public Relations Team announced a New HP and Microsoft Agreement to Simplify Technology Environments in an IT Infrastructure Spotlight of 1/13/2010.

HP and Microsoft Corp. today announced an agreement to invest $250 million over the next three years to significantly simplify technology environments for businesses of all sizes. This agreement represents the industry’s most comprehensive technology stack integration to date — from infrastructure to application — and is intended to substantially improve the customer experience for developing, deploying and managing IT environments.

The press release features video segments by Microsoft and HP execs, links to related articles and blog posts, and featured tweets. The designated Twitter hashtag for the announcement is #HPMSFT.

When I first heard about the HPMSFT agreement, I posted the following tweet:

Sounds to me like #HPMSFT will deliver the long-denied but recently-promised #Azure private cloud. MSFT's early excuse was non-std. hardware [8:45 AM Jan 13th from web].

Endorsing an Azure-compatible hardware/software package that emulates Microsoft’s data center infrastructure lets Microsoft play both sides of the public/private cloud controversy. The CIO can tell the CEO and board: “If hosting our applications in Microsoft Data Centers doesn’t work out, we can buy a fully compatible infrastructure and host them ourselves.” The solution doesn’t solve vendor lock-in to Microsoft software, but it does solve the locked in to the Azure cloud issue.

Tim Anderson: Steve Ballmer and the “Private Cloud Version of Windows Azure”

Tim Anderson’s New HP and Microsoft agreement commits $50 million less than similar 2006 deal post of 1/15/2010 quotes Steve Ballmer’s answer to the question: “[W]hat level of cloud focus was in this new partnership?”

The fact that our two companies are very directed at the cloud is the driving force behind this deal at this time. The cloud really means a modern architecture for how you build and deploy applications. If you build and deploy them to our service that we operate that’s called Windows Azure. If a customer deploys them inside their own data centre or some other hosted environment, they need a stack on which to build, hardware software and services, that instances the same application model that we’ll have on Windows Azure. I think of it as the private cloud version of Windows Azure.

That thing is going to be an integrated stack from the hardware, the virtualization layer, the management layer and the app model. It’s on that that we are focusing the technical collaboration here … we at Microsoft need to evangelize that same application model whether you choose to host in the the cloud or on your own premises. So in a sense this is entirely cloud motivated.

Carl Brooks: The HP Private Cloud Lineup

Carl Brooks goes into more detail from HP about the private cloud aspects of the agreement in his Microsoft, HP link arms in $250 million cloud kumbaya post of 1/14/2010 to

HP is already providing server hardware for Windows Azure, Microsoft's Platform as a Service business, and the one hundred and fifteen billion-dollar firm said that HP Private Cloud products created under this new agreement will feature built-in integration with Azure services, giving Microsoft a captive audience for its new platform.

"This approach enables customers to integrate private or public cloud computing models as their business requires, and in the future, services built on Microsoft Windows Azure," said an HP spokesperson.

HP said its private cloud offering would be based around Microsoft's "Dynamic Data Center" initiative, and it will also come with a portfolio of services for the integrated HP server/Microsoft operating system bundles called Private Cloud Implementation Services.

The following new products will support the HP Private Cloud with Microsoft:

  • Microsoft Data Center Virtualization Strategy
  • Microsoft Data Center Discovery and Capacity Planning
  • Data Center Virtualization Design for Microsoft Environment
  • Data Center Virtualization Transition for Microsoft Environment
  • Data Center Virtualization Implementation for Microsoft

Private Cloud Implementation Services will be announced in 2010 to complement currently unannounced hardware and software bundles from the two IT giants. The firms are calling the move "infrastructure-to-application" and claim it represents the industry's most comprehensive technology stack integration to date, although no technical details of any kind have been released. …

Judith Hurwitz Analyzes Previous Partnerships of Today’s Cloud-Computing Players

Judith’s The DNA of the Cloud Power Partnerships post of 1/15/2010 begins:

I have been thinking  a lot about the new alliances forming around cloud computing over the past couple of months.  The most important of these moves are EMC,Cisco, and VMware, HP and Microsoft’s announced collaboration, and of course, Oracle’s planned acquisition of Sun.  Now, let’s add IBM’s cloud strategy into the mix which has a very different complexion from its competitors. And, of course, my discussion of the cloud power struggle wouldn’t be complete without adding in the insurgents — Google and Amazon. 

While it is tempting to want to portray this power grab by all of the above as something brand new — it isn’t.  It is a replay of well-worn patterns that we have seen in the computer industry for the past several decades. Yes, I am old enough to have been around for all of these power shifts. So, I’d like to point out what the DNA of this power struggle looks like for the cloud and how we might see history repeating itself in the coming year.  So, here is a sample of how high profile partnerships have fared over the past few decades. While the past can never accurately predict the future, it does provide some interesting insights. …

She continues by revisiting partnerships between:

    • HP an Cisco in 1997 …
    • Cisco and IBM in 2004 …
    • HP and BEA in 1999 …

And concludes:

… The bottom line is that cloud computing is becoming more than a passing fad — it is the future of how computing will change in the coming decades. Because of this reality, partnerships are changing and will continue to change. So, I suspect that the pronouncements of strategic, critical and sustainable partnerships may or may not be worth the paper or compute cycles that created them. But the reality is that the power struggle for cloud dominance is on. It will not leave anything untouched. It will envelop hardware, software, networking, and services. No one can predict exactly what will happen, but the way these companies have acted in the past and the present give us clues to a chaotic and predictable future.

How Does Dell Fit into the Picture?

Charles Babcock reports Dell's Data Center Unit Racking Up Cloud Sales in this 1/14/2010 InformationWeek article:

Over the past two years Dell has become a server supplier to search engine providers Yahoo, Microsoft's Bing and and other cloud suppliers, such as Amazon Web Services, as these companies built out their data centers on the Internet.

Dell's Data Center Solutions unit, has only 20 customers, but would be the third largest supplier of x86 servers in the U.S. if it were split out from Dell, said Forrest Norrod, the unit's VP and general manager, in an interview. The only companies ahead it in shipping Intel or AMD servers would be HP and Dell itself.

When the unit was established in mid-2006, those 20 customers represented 5% of the x86 server market. Today, they consume more than 10% of x86 servers produced, Norrod said at Dell headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, Tuesday. Those customers enlist suppliers in addition to Dell, but Dell has experience in producing 30-40 types of servers that have been used to build out the massively scaled, "cloud" data centers. …

In Norrod's opinion, the action won't stop there. "The private cloud could proliferate as well," he predicted. When an enterprise starts to recast its data center on the pattern of the public cloud, that's sometimes called a "private cloud" and features clusters of virtualized x86 servers, managed through a virtualization management console.

Asked to further define private cloud, Norrod said in jest, "It's a magic panacea that solves all problems." Even those interested in the cloud-style of computing "don't see a wholesale migration to the cloud," whether public or private, he said. But he added that there was a clear interest in running Windows or Linux applications, "whose data can't be exported to the public cloud for reasons of security or compliance, inside the enterprise in a private cloud."

The Private versus Public Cloud Controversy

A controversy as to wether or not private clouds exist or should exist has been raging for the past few months. Here are a few useful references on the issue:

Gartner Says IT Organisations Will Spend More Money on Private Cloud Computing Investments Than on Offerings From Public Cloud Providers Through 2012 in this 12/1/2009 press release:

Despite the economies of scale offered by public cloud providers, private cloud services will prevail for the foreseeable future while public cloud offerings mature, according to Gartner, Inc. Through 2012, IT organizations will spend more money on private cloud computing investments than on offerings from public cloud providers.

Gartner defines public cloud computing as a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to external customers using Internet technologies. Private cloud computing is defined as a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to internal customers using Internet technologies.

Gartner Highlights Key Predictions for IT Organizations and Users in 2010 and Beyond in a 1/13/2010 press release: By 2012, 20 percent of businesses will own no IT assets, which controverts the prevalence of private clouds, is the first of several predictions:

Several interrelated trends are driving the movement toward decreased IT hardware assets, such as virtualization, cloud-enabled services, and employees running personal desktops and notebook systems on corporate networks.

The need for computing hardware, either in a data center or on an employee's desk, will not go away. However, if the ownership of hardware shifts to third parties, then there will be major shifts throughout every facet of the IT hardware industry. For example, enterprise IT budgets will either be shrunk or reallocated to more-strategic projects; enterprise IT staff will either be reduced or reskilled to meet new requirements, and/or hardware distribution will have to change radically to meet the requirements of the new IT hardware buying points.

Alistair Kroll asserts Private Clouds Are A Fix, Not The Future in this 1/13/2010 article for InformationWeek:

Over the last few months, there's been growing discussion over private and hybrid clouds. At first blush, a "private cloud" sounds like an oxymoron, particularly if you subscribe to Amazon CTO Werner Vogels' definition of cloud computing: "a style of computing where you have massively scalable IT-related capabilities that are available as a service, over the Internet, to multiple customers."

There's a massive difference between clouds as a business model--outsourced, third-party computing on demand--and clouds as a set of technologies (virtualization, automation, and so on). Vendors who blur the distinction between the two in order to jump on a bandwagon make me mad. We had a vigorous debate on the subject at Interop New York, and I'm sure it will be front and center at Cloud Connect in March.

So I'm going to try and set out why I think the distinction is important, and not just a semantic one. That way I can stop interrupting people and going off on a rant every time the subject comes up. …

Phil Wainwright asks When will the crowd turn against private cloud? in his 1/14/2010 post to ZDNet’s Software as Service blog:

Following on from yesterday’s Forecasting Fisticuffs webcast (recording here) with fellow Enterprise Irregular bloggers Vinnie Mirchandani and Dennis Howlett alongside Appirio’s Narinder Singh, I tweeted a provocative prediction for 2010 that “Private clouds will be discredited by year end”. There followed a flurry of counter-tweets, most notably a challenge from Cloudscaling CEO Randy Bias to put my money where my mouth is.

That required a bit more clarity about what we’d actually be betting on, and the continuing conversation quickly showed up the constraints of Twitter’s 140-character limit. I resolved to dive into some of the underlying concepts in a blog post here today.

First of all, ‘discredited’. As I elaborated to SearchCloudComputing’s Carl Brooks, that means “No one likes using the phrase any more” — I was aiming to capture something halfway between the repulsion and embarassment people used to feel about, respectively, application service providers and intranets. People will still be using private clouds, but I believe they’ll feel increasingly ashamed or nervous of admitting it in public, except to fellow-users. The rest of the world will have moved on. I’m inclined to agree with Phil Morris that my timing was probably over-ambitious. Year-end 2011 or mid-2012 would have been a lot safer but hey, I wanted to be provocative. And I truly believe sentiment will have started shifting before the year is out. …

Sam Johnston’s Cloud or Not? post of 10/13/2009 includes this flow chart that lets you determine whether you’re implementing cloud computing:

Krishnan Subramanian disdains the controversy in his Public vs Private Cloud Brouhaha: My Take post of 8/24/2009 to the Cloud Ave. blog:

The blogosphere and Twitterverse is full of debates about whether private clouds are actually clouds or not. I have had my own share of debates on the Twitter and I thought I will bring it over to Cloud Ave for further enlightenment. For a change, I am going to follow the Redmonk style and go with a Q&A approach.

1) Do you want to make any disclosures?

Yes. I used to be an unabashed proponent of “only public clouds” theme. I have advocated this in this blog, in comments on other blogs and Twitter. I used to argue in favor of the same thing I am going to oppose in this post.

14) I am done listening to your Obama kind of professorial speech. Can’t you just wind up this post?

Will do. Whether it is a private cloud or IT Management 2.0 or public cloud or xxxxxxx, it is just a terminology to denote a certain thing. Why fight over names? Why can’t we live and let live? Why can’t US coexist with Iran and Cuba? Why fight over stuff that means nothing in the big picture? This reminds me of the rhetoric of FSF fanatics against Open Source licenses. This also reminds me of the whines of certain open source zealots against GPL. Why do we have to take a binary approach and say “either you are with us or against us”? Why can’t GPL and other open source licenses coexist? Why should one’s existence means “death to the other one”? It is just plain silly to fight over such trivial things like names and terminologies.

Let me just say one word before I end this post. Enough!!


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