It is inevitable for any considerable enterprise to consider how the cloud and the data center can be combined in the most dynamic, efficient and secure way as possible.

It’s a decision making process that gets even more complex when considering the dizzying terminology that makes sense only after considerable conversation.

I kept thinking about these customers when listening to Hewlett-Packard (HP) discuss its new hybrid cloud service.

HP is announcing today that it is offering:

  • A public cloud environment for customers that want all of its IT services in the cloud.
  • An extended data center environment that leverages the security of the data center with the distributed network of a cloud environment.
  • An automated cloud management system for managing multiple cloud and data center environments.
  • Workshops to help IT managers and executives better understand the complexities of what’s available and better define what they need in order to create a network that meets their needs.

It gets complicated when Hewlett-Packard starts getting into the details of what they are offering. It’s not the first time we have heard a company call what they are offering a hosted and private cloud environment. That’s how HP describes its offering for what amounts to an extended data center that uses a virtualized environment to create a network that leverages the cloud and its core, on-premise environment.

But this is the nature of the market. Customers believe they need private clouds. What they really needs are flat networks to move resources in a virtual environment. The network needs to be able to manage any variety of applications that between thousands of virtual machines.

To do that, HP offers a converged infrastructure that includes the storage, servers that can be provisioned in clusters, the network, power and cooling and the management software.

My colleague Klint Finley spent a few days with HP and learned a lot about these infrastructures:

HP claims that not only can it do all the work of setting up racks, wiring, optimizing power consumption and building out the full data center for you – it claims it can do so at the fraction of the cost of doing it yourself. HP takes advantage of assembly line productivity to industrialize the process of creating data centers.

The management software is a critical component of the offering. It may also be on of the most important aspects of what is required to manage a virtualized infrastructure. It’s the automation component. It orchestrates the process so virtual machines can be managed effectively.

The team at HP realizes that there is an inherent complexity in the language associated with today’s complicated array of data center offerings. So we can see why workshops make sense.

In the end, though, we find the language a bit of a folly. The hardware and software that HP is selling costs millions of dollars. What it provides is a network, albeit different from previous generations, it is still a network. Not to say the technology is unnecessary, it’s just more what we think of as networked data centers rather than cloud computing.

alex williams