OpenStack is an open-source vehicle for rapidly provisioning data center resources, and it’s becoming one of the biggest movements in enterprise IT in years. HP wants it to be theirs, and the company is investing $1 billion in the next two years on cloud products, engineering, and professional services via its Project Helion.

OpenStack addresses a very base level human instinct demonstrated by shadow IT—that of not wanting to be marginalized. If a developer doesn’t get what she wants fast enough, she’ll sneak around the roadblocks and go directly to the cloud. With a credit card, it’s easy to get compute power and storage for projects in just five minutes on Amazon Web Services or another cloud provider.

See also: Cloud Wars In 2014: Amazon Versus Google And Other Follies

One way to look at OpenStack is that it’s a way for vendors to lead customers to their cloud. ReadWrite contributor Matt Asay said money tends to flow to the companies that contribute the most to open source projects. “This makes sense, as prospective buyers prefer to buy from the vendor that shows the most leadership on a project,” he said.

HP appears to be taking this concept to heart, both with its significant financial investment, as well as through its work on OpenStack. HP contributed the third-most commits to the latest Icehouse release of OpenStack, after Red Hat and IBM.

HP’s Plans For OpenStack

HP said it will offer two editions—one free for proof of concepts, pilots, and basic production workloads, and another “enhanced commercial edition” for enterprises. HP’s Platform-as-a Service development component of Helion, based on Cloud Foundry, will be released later this year.

HP’s OpenStack plans are causing some concern, however. Dell, another OpenStack supporter that sells Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform on its servers, is not in love with HP’s plans. Dell’s chief technical evangelist Sam Greenblatt implied in a blog post that HP’s announcement “feels like a step back to closed architectures.”

With this approach, HP chooses how much proprietary software they want to include into a distribution, which runs counter to the principles of open source distributions. This model burdens organizations to have the OpenStack expertise and resources in house to sort through and decide which distribution is right for them, and how to deploy and maintain it. This takes me back to the days of Linux when the industry was faced with hundreds of different distributions creating confusion and difficult decisions for customers. It feels like HP/UX Unix déjà vu all over again.

Traditional vendors like HP, Oracle and VMware are reshaping their offerings to rapidly deploy in the cloud. Oracle recently called Solaris 11.2 a “cloud operating system,” and said its centralized management with OpenStack would enable deployment to private cloud instances in minutes instead of weeks. VMware and SAP plan to offer the in-memory database Hana on VMware’s cloud

HP wants to hold your hand and guide you with its own team of cloud experts and network of service providers. HP’s OpenStack Technology Indemnification Program is geared toward allaying customer fears about open source technology adoption, protecting customers using HP Helion OpenStack code from “third-party patent, copyright, and trade-secret infringement claims directed to OpenStack code alone or in combination with Linux code.”

HP operates more than 80 data centers, and will offer OpenStack-based public cloud services in 20 of them within the next 18 months.

“Cloud is not a destination, it’s actually how you deliver the new style of IT,” said Henry Gomez, HP’s chief marketing and communications officer. “It’s not the technology, it’s what it can do for you, your organization, and the world.”

Image courtesy of HP.