Creating the interoperable converged cloud standards
Tue 26 Aug 2014
Most IT vendors often say much the same thing, and may of them would like their latest and greatest cloud or another kind of technological solution to become the industry standard. Companies such as HP and Nutanix are among them. In a recent interview some converged cloud infrastructure experts at HP indicated that the company wants to make its converged cloud infrastructure technologies and practices the definitive industry standard.
In contrast to Nutanix these systems are far beyond the reach of the average company and so their focus is on bringing a completely different architecture to mainstream datacentres to enable firms of all sizes to “benefit from the same technologies powering cloud infrastructures that are used by the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon.” The aim is to allow datacentre managers to run all of their virtualised applications on comparatively affordable x86 servers. Greg Smith – the company’s senior director of technical marketing, says this will eliminate the need to make expensive investments in traditional storage arrays. This permits his customers to build web-scale infrastructures, and to begin with all they will need is just three servers – putting web-scale into the reach of any enterprise.
Paul Morgan, HP EMEA CloudSystem Director, explains that the concept of converged infrastructure was created to transform the way customers manage their IT. This has evolved into HP Helion – the new brand name for its cloud portfolio. Supporting it is a commitment to OpenStack technology and hybrid IT delivery that he says spans traditional IT, public, private and managed clouds “via an investment of $1bn over the next two years”. HP’s ambition is expand Helion’s global reach by investing this money on cloud-related product and engineering initiatives as well as on professional services. Open standards are key to this strategy, and the company believes that the future will more about the hybrid cloud rather than a discussion about public and private clouds.
“The key thing is to be able to combine infrastructure elements together and then integrate it with our cloud software for orchestration purposes”, he explains while declaring that HP has the hardware, the software and the services to achieve infrastructure convergence with cloud offerings such as HP CloudSystem and Cloud System Automation. Then there’s the HP Helion Network which is designed to take this concept one step further in his view. It aims to provide “a unique and commercial operating model for service providers and it aims to attract a powerful ecosystem of ISVs, developers, systems integrators and value-added resellers.”
In terms of interoperability he says that HP new that the future had to be interoperable, and this today appears in the form of HP OneView which allows customers to manage their infrastructure services across different layers. “Once customers move to CloudSystem, they will have the same cloud management platform to allow them to harness the power of converged infrastructure and its fully certified for HP and third party hardware”, he explains. The company recognises that customers don’t always buy everything from HP; they also purchase hardware from other vendors. To cater for this HP provides the interoperable functionality.
In contrast Greg Smith doesn’t think that interoperability is the real issue. “Focusing on how well 20 year old technologies interoperate together misses the point and in fact, when interoperability is the focus, it’s an implicit acknowledgement that there are too many technologies that need to work better together”, he argues. Web-scale architectures are in his experience able to eliminate the need for disparate technologies and so it simplifies it all.
He sees the challenge as being one about reducing complexity and of one that removes a number of standards from datacentres – specifically those relating to the traditional storage architectures such as SANs and NAS technologies that he claims have been around for at least two decades. This has meant that legacy datacentres have been built around islands of storage, connected to servers using dedicated networks – but with web-scale technologies he says these islands dissipate.
Web-scale technologies also eliminate the need for storage networks because data is stored closer to the applications to in order to gain better performance. In terms of a standard, he describes this as the hallmark of a hyper-converged infrastructure. So in conclusion the battle is between the vendors that claim to have it all, and vendor such as Nutanix that are recognised by Gartner as leading innovators who say that there is a new technological approach that negates the need for an interoperable standard and which instead stress the need for customer choice. The pursuit of an industry standard in contrast is sometime about limiting that decision to one product or service. So perhaps Smith is right. The focus should be on allowing customers to decide what they really want.
By Graham Jarvis