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HP Takes On Amazon With Enterprise Cloud Services

The infrastructure as a service, offered from two HP data centers, boasts a 99.9% guaranteed uptime service level agreement and private cloud services.

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HP is plunging into the cloud, offering infrastructure as a service from its own state-of-the-art data centers to compete with Amazon.com. The cloud services will be offered from HP data centers in Tulsa, Okla., and Wynyard, England.

It's also upping the ante in cloud services by offering a service level agreement with guaranteed uptime of 99.9%.The HP SLAs will include an operational recovery time objective (RTO), or an amount of allowable time that an individual virtual or physical server and its associated software and networking connectivity may be down in an unplanned outage. The RTO for a virtual machine is one hour; for a physical server, seven hours. There was no reference to what penalties might come into play if HP service ever exceeded any of its SLA limits, but customers could presumably negotiate some, under HP's announced SLA emphasis.

Lack of penalties for outages has been a sore point for some enterprises as they came to rely more heavily on Amazon Web Services' EC2 infrastructure as a service.

HP officials characterize their new service as a public cloud equipped with "private cloud" services. "We can enable and support cloud services across a hybrid data center," said Bill Veghte, executive VP of HP software, in an interview Monday. HP is offering both compute services from its own data centers with security bundled in, as well as "a packaged system" that customers may use to build a compatible private cloud on premises.

"Cloud computing is going mainstream and HP is leading the way," added Ann Livermore, executive VP of the HP enterprise business unit, in the announcement.

The cloud services will become available in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Africa in February. It will be available in other regions worldwide this summer. No representative pricing was immediately available. Veghte said HP will wade into a "competitively priced" arena, already equipped with several suppliers. AWS offers a simple Linux virtual server for 8.5 cents an hour and a Windows server for 12 cents per hour.

Both Rackspace and Amazon have previously created "private" services within their publicly accessible clouds. The services have more restricted access, often via an encrypted VLAN, and in some cases stiffer security measures.

HP announced several services Monday.

HP Enterprise Cloud Services offers compute, or automatically provisioned server infrastructure for workloads sent to it, with built-in scaling. Veghte said the HP cloud will be governed by "strict security policies" as well as other automated features, but didn't specify what they would be. In addition, no storage service will be included in the initial offering to match Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) and Elastic Blocks Storage.

HP CloudSystem is HP's package of its BladeSystem Matrix hardware combined with its Cloud Service Automation software. With HP running BladeSystem converged infrastructure itself, the package is suitable for building a private cloud on-premises that will work with HP's cloud services in its own data centers.

CloudSystem supports HP Cloud Maps, a catalog of preconfigured software which speeds the provisioning of certain optimized applications for use on an appropriately sized cloud server.

HP is offering Cloud Discovery Workshops to both government and private-sector companies to assess their needs and offer a "holistic" cloud strategy in response.

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