HP ‘Master The Cloud’ Event (Toronto) – Part 1
Today, HP brought its cloud solutions roadshow to Toronto, bringing some heavy hitters up from the US to explain cloud computing to an interested but very reserved crowd of 700 IT managers, CIOs, and software gurus.
The event, held at the Direct Energy Centre, can be described as a tasteful hybrid of trade show and conference, with an army of HP staffers outfitted in black with orange lanyards, primed and prepared to explain the intricacies of cloud management with nicely-produced videos, sample slices of hardware, and coolest of all, a full-sized mock-up of their HP Performance Optimized Data (POD) Centre, a completely self-contained data house essentially built inside a cargo container, and deployable pretty much anywhere, including, as the reps stated proudly many times, into combat zones in Afghanistan.
The POD basically contains dozens of racks of computing power and can be delivered anywhere by truck. It can be hooked up to a client’s existing data system, and therefore best symbolizes the dynamic nature of “the cloud,” a term that has taken the business world by storm (which is not always a welcome thing. As HP exec Patrick Harr described it, the cloud can often be seen as the world’s largest Ginsu knife – overhyped and romising all things to all people.)
The reason the POD works so well as a symbol of the cloud is that it is versatile, external, scalable, energy efficient and highly secure. It is also managed and run by someone else. And these are precisely the issues that scare many decision makers, who see “cloud” on the horizon, and who know that it will be on top of them eventually, but who really do not want to take on the risks of shifting their data to an unknown space and out of their control.
That is why the first half of the day was given over to three keynotes, Intel’s Eric Doyle and HP’s Dave Frederickson and Patrick Harr. They all talked in great detail about the confidence issue: first, that HP has been looking after people’s business (technologically-speaking) since 1932, and then how business is shifting to an open source service model, in which mashable apps and dynamic, fluid service are the necessities from this point on. Harr points out that CIO’s are no longer in full control. As “business” outpaces “IT” in making decisions regarding adopting and adapting to the cloud the role of the CIO itself is changing to become a builder and broker of services.
In a shift from the “build it and they will come” mentality of large-scale enterprise technology providers of past epochs, HP points out that the cloud era is one of responding to feedback and adjusting accordingly. There is more than a hint of “free-market economy” in this approach. A shadow of Adam Smith’s invisible hand, when describing “federated technologies” as an opportunity to move away from proprietary infrastructures (such as existing mainframe and storage systems) that may actually “stifle innovation.”
The biggest concern of most customers who are considering cloud solutions is security – ranging from the safety of secured data to the location of the storage sites themselves. Compliance, liability and the US Patriot Act loom large in the minds of those who still have trouble letting go of the notion that the safest place for a company’s data is with themselves.
HP is working hard to demonstrate and prove, through its raft of hybrid cloud, public cloud, private cloud and virtual private cloud solutions, the best place for a customer’s data is in the scalable data ecosystem of the cloud, which grows and adapts to an organization’s needs while remaining ever-present and reliable.
And although most of the analogies and terminologies used to describe this technology are soft (clouds, and ecosystems, for example), it was a shrewd move for HP to park a great big truck trailer in the middle of the convention floor, to give their customers something real to touch and explore. (When no-one from the HP army was watching, I actually kicked its actual tires.
By Steve Prentice
Post Sponsored by HP