Over the past few months, I’ve had a chance to spend time with the HP product teams. In doing so, it’s really opened my eyes to a new HP with a number of solid offerings. Two solutions (CloudSystem and Moonshot) really caught my attention.
HP’s CloudSystem Matrix provides a management solution that manages internal and external resources and across multiple cloud providers. The heart of the CloudSystem platform is in its extendible architecture. In doing so, it provides the glue that many enterprises look to leverage for bridging the gap between internal and external resources. On the surface, HP CloudSystem looks pretty compelling for enterprises considering the move to cloud (internal, external, public or private). For those thinking that CloudSystem only works with OpenStack solutions, think again. CloudSystem’s architecture is designed to work across both OpenStack and non-OpenStack infrastructures.
However, the one question I do have is why CloudSystem doesn’t get the airplay it should. While it may not be the right solution for everyone, it should be in the mix when considering the move to cloud-based solutions (public or private).
Probably one of the most interesting solutions recently announced is HP’s Moonshot. On the surface, it may appear to be a replacement for traditional blades or general-purpose servers. Not true. The real opportunity comes from it’s ability to tune infrastructure for a specific IT workload.
Traditionally, IT workloads are mixed. Within an enterprise’s data center run a variety of applications with mixed requirements. In sum, a mixed workload looks like a melting pot of technology. One application may be chatty, while another is processor intensive and yet another is disk intensive. The downside to the mixed workload is the inability to tune the infrastructure (and platforms) to most efficiently run the workload.
All Workloads Are Not Created Equally
As the world increasingly embraces cloud computing and a services-based approach, we are starting to see workloads coalesce into groupings. Instead of running a variety of workloads on general-purpose servers, we group applications together with service providers. For example, one service provider might offer an Microsoft Exchange email solution. Their entire workload is Exchange and they’re able to tune their infrastructure to most efficiently support Exchange. This also leads to a high level of specialization not possible in the typical enterprise.
That’s where Moonshot comes in. Moonshot provides a platform that is highly scalable and tunable for specific workloads. Don’t think of Moonshot as a high-performance general-purpose server. That’s like taking an Indy car and trying to haul the kids to soccer practice. You can do it, but would you? Moonshot was purpose-built and not geared for the typical enterprise data center or workload. The sweet spot for Moonshot is in the Service Provider market where you typically find both the scale and focus on specific workloads. HP also considered common challenges Service Providers would face with Moonshot at scale. As an example, management software offers the ability to update CPUs and instances in bulk.
Two downsides to Moonshot are side effects of the change in architecture. One is in the creation of bandwidth problems. Moonshot is very power efficient, but requires quite a bit of bandwidth. The other challenge is around traditional software licensing. This problem is not new and seems to rear its ugly head with changes in innovation. We saw this with both Virtualization and Cloud. Potential users of Moonshot need to consider how to best address these issues. Plus, industry standard software licensing will need to evolve to support newer infrastructure methods. HP (along with users) need to lobby software providers to evolve their practices.
OpenStack at the Core
HP is one of the core OpenStack open-source contributors. OpenStack, while a very powerful solution, is a hard sell for the enterprise market. This will only get harder over time. On the other hand, Service Providers present a unique match for the challenges and opportunities that OpenStack presents. HP is leveraging OpenStack as part of the Moonshot offering. Pairing Moonshot with OpenStack is a match made in heaven. The combination, when leveraged by Service Providers provides a strong platform to support their offering compared with alternatives.
When considering the combination of CloudSystem along with Moonshot and OpenStack, HP has raised the stakes from a single provider. The solutions provide a bridge from the current traditional environments to Service Provider solutions.
I am pleased to see a traditional hardware/ software provider acknowledging how the technology industry is evolving and providing solutions that span the varied requirements. I, for one, will be interested to see how successful HP is in continuing their path through the evolution.