HP has an, ahem, checkered history when it comes to the cloud. Its OpenStack-based public cloud was launched, re-launched, rebranded, bolstered with the acquisition of Eucalyptus, had leaders, new leaders, and even newer leaders and was finally nixed in the undeniable face of commercial failure. Following on from the shuttering of public Helion, HP is trying another tack and announcing a partnership with Microsoft to offer customers integrated hybrid cloud deployments which take HP hardware and Microsoft's Azure cloud operating system. Where to start?
The idea of this deal is to take Microsoft's very real software smarts and apply them over HP's hardware. But there is a sad reality that HP is missing. In recent years, name-brand hardware sales have been decimated by cheap and cheerful OEM equipment that can be sourced directly from manufacturers such as Quanta. Unencumbered from the very real tax that a known brand like HP brings, huge numbers of organizations have been buying hardware from the OEMs and applying software (be it proprietary solutions or open source ones such as OpenStack) over the top of said hardware. This partnership seems at odds to that trend.
According to the press release:
The extended partnership appoints Microsoft Azure as a preferred public cloud partner for HPE customers while HPE will serve as a preferred partner in providing infrastructure and services for Microsoft’s hybrid cloud offerings.
Or, in real terms, a new appliance is being delivered which includes the new Microsoft software on it along with some specialized operating software. The idea being that the software being run on this appliance is essentially the same as that which is being run in Microsoft's Azure public cloud -- ergo, organizations can have a hybrid infrastructure that matches.
Which is great and all, except for the fact that I have very little belief that the HP hardware part offers any real benefits in this arrangement (other than HPE's new sexy logo, that is). For Microsoft, this is a pretty good partnership since it gives them another point of validation for Azure. For customers that are still wedded to the HP brand, I guess it's good, assuming they care about Microsoft Azure.
For HPE? Maybe a chance for a tiny bit of incremental revenue but pretty much it's simply another stumble in what is an ongoing drunken-like meander down an unknown and, frankly, scary path.
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