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HP goes live with Cloud Object Storage to challenge Amazon

HP Cloud Object Storage, aimed at service providers, comes out of beta and goes into GA; HP's cloud uses OpenStack object storage and Akamai for CDN.

Hewlett-Packard Co. today moved its HP Cloud Object Storage and Cloud Content Delivery Network (CDN) out of public beta and into general availability as it tries to take on market leaders Amazon S3 and Google.

I don't know if this is enough to put HP in a leadership position. … I would expect HP, Dell and IBM to have the capacity to put this together, but all three are being timid.

Andrew Reichman,
analyst, Forrester Research Inc.

HP sells its cloud services to providers and claims it is best suited for Web content, backup and archiving, storage tiering, disaster recovery and "big data." HP's service-level agreement (SLA) promises 99.95% uptime, and it will pay service credits if it falls below that number.

HP's strategy is similar to EMC's with its Atmos cloud object storage platform, which providers can use to build cloud services around. But HP's most formidable competition will come from Amazon's established cloud services.

HP's cloud object storage infrastructure is based on OpenStack technology. The HP Cloud Object Storage replicates objects across HP's regional data centers, and has native support for object sizes from 1 byte to 5 GB. Objects are replicated in the cloud three times across physically separated zones.

The CDN runs on top of HP Cloud Object Storage and is powered by Akamai to globally move cached data and content, requiring high performance and low latency. CDN provides HTTP compression to improve delivery performance, and encrypts content using SSL encryption technology.

"HP Cloud Object Storage caches content and delivers it to the HP Cloud CDN as needed," said Marc Padovani, director of product management for HP cloud services. "Customers can sign up for HP Cloud Object Storage and choose to deliver data through the HP Cloud CDN whenever they choose. CDN provides high, sustained transfer rates that allow enterprises to deliver large objects to end users on a massive scale."

HP said it has more than 100 partners as part of its network, including Adobe Systems Inc., TwinStrata Inc., MapR Technologies Inc., Panzura and Riverbed Technology Inc.

"They are developers or selling some type of service such as an appliance. We provide the back end," Padovani said.

The HP Cloud Object Storage costs $0.12 per GB per month for the first 50 terabytes (TB), but pricing for HP CDN is based on the amount of data transferred and the customers' billing location. For instance, the first 10 TB is priced at $0.16 in North America, Europe and Latin America. In Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, it costs $0.19 for the first 10 TB, while it costs $0.39 for the rest of the world.

TwinStrata has integrated its CloudArray storage gateway with HP's cloud services. The partnership includes a trial offer for customers to download TwinStrata's software appliance and receive 1 TB of free capacity to store data in the HP cloud.

TwinStrata CEO Nicos Vekiarides said more than 100 customers have signed up for the free trial since it went live a few weeks ago during the HP Cloud Object Storage beta program. He sees a large upside to the partnership. "OpenStack has a huge community behind it," he said. "When something is open source, it is providing a lot of features that customers want, and they are delivered through the community."

HP's partnership strategy questioned

Andrew Reichman, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., said HP will have a tough time challenging Amazon because Amazon has built a much larger cloud infrastructure with 25 data centers and up to 300,000 servers. HP is piecing together a cloud infrastructure through partnerships rather than building its own from the ground up.

"I don't know if this is enough to put HP in a leadership position," he said. "They shouldn't partner with Akamai. They should build it, but this is a cheaper way to do it. I would expect HP, Dell and IBM to have the capacity to put this together, but all three are being timid. HP, Dell and IBM are still trying to figure it out."

Reichman said HP may be miscalculating by targeting cloud providers instead of selling directly to end-user organizations because providers "are notorious for paying very little and not tolerating high margins.”

"There is a lot of talk among vendors about being arms dealers to providers. I don't think there are going to be hundreds of thousands of cloud providers that will last," Reichman said. "There will be five or 10."

Nasuni Corp. CEO Andres Rodriguez, whose company competes with TwinStrata, also questions HP's ability to compete. He called HP's cloud offering a "glorified science experiment." He said, "HP's cloud infrastructure does not scale to the level that Amazon and Google have built."

Nasuni uses Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure as cloud providers for customers who buy its storage controllers.

"Does HP have the ability to catch up with what Amazon has right now?" Rodriguez asked.

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