When it comes to working in the cloud there are a number of business benefits, not least easier IT management, cost savings and greater flexibility and scalability.
There is also the promise of being able to keep up with technology developments by using the up to date systems of cloud providers, while also reducing the number of on-premise servers and storage appliances, and freeing up data centre space.
The cloud can also support virtualisation across the business and efficiently serve the internal IT and application needs from sales, HR and other company departments.
This HP whitepaper explains how the HP Helion cloud offering can make the above benefits a reality for organisations moving into the cloud.
One company that has benefited from HP Helion is ACA Retail. Most retailers, particularly the smaller ones, do not want to handle their IT themselves, and so they outsource it. One company that provides IT services specifically for this sector is ACA Retail.
ACA has more than 1,000 customers for its software solutions, who are mostly within its home territory of the Netherlands, but also in Sweden, Portugal, Belgium, Germany and France.
ACA focuses on the fashion, shoes and sports sectors, and provides software for functions including POS (point of sale) information, customer management, pricing policy and automatic stock replenishment. It also delivers services such as project management, system design and customer support.
Until recently, ACA sold its software with a hardware solution based on HP ProLiant servers, which customers then ran on their own premises. Some customers managed their own equipment, while ACA provided remote management services to others.
To respond to changing demand in the market, ACA then decided it needed to offer a “pay per use” solution to its customers, based on cloud-based technology.
“Customers were looking for a combination of financial savings and simplicity, and they wanted fewer items to manage,” says Patrick van den Bosch, technology manager at ACA Retail. “Importantly for us if we could make our solution less expensive for our customers and less hassle – with no server rooms – then it became easy to sell.”
ACA also had customers who needed to replace ageing systems, but in today’s tough financial climate, they were unwilling to make a large investment in new IT infrastructure. For these companies, the monthly fee and lack of upfront investment of a pay per use cloud solution made it an appealing option.
To enable a seamless cloud service delivery solution, ACA chose HP Helion CloudSystem, a complete and integrated solution for building and managing cloud services, and a leading component of the HP Helion offering.
HP Helion CloudSystem integrates hardware, software and services into an open platform that supports multi-hypervisors, multi-operating systems and heterogeneous infrastructures.
The ACA cloud deployment includes HP ProLiant BL460c server blades in an HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosure, with storage provided by an HP 3PAR F400 storage system. HP’s Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10GB/24-port module provides an easy, fast way to connect the virtualised server blades to ACA’s existing infrastructure.
HP provides ACA 24x7 support with a four-hour response time via its Support Plus 24 service, which is delivered under a five year contract. The scalability of the virtualised cloud solution means that, as a customer’s business grows, they can simply pay a little more each month for increased capacity, without needing to buy extra servers, storage or memory.
The cloud infrastructure’s flexibility has also helped to reduce the overall cost of IT for ACA’s customers.
Van den Bosch says: “In the past we tended to over-provision, but in the cloud, you only use and pay for what you need.” ACA’s customers now typically spend anything between 140 and 950 Euros each month for the cloud solution, including hardware, software and support.
“Comparing like with like, moving to the cloud means their overall costs are between 10 and 20 per cent cheaper, depending on the solution,” he says. “For retail customers that is a big reduction – if they can save for example 200 Euros a month that is a lot of money for them.”
Just as important as the overall cost savings, there has been a shift from up-front capital expenditure to steady operating costs. “Our customers now don’t have to invest thousands of Euros every five years in hardware, they just pay a monthly fee,” adds van den Bosch.
Cassandra Mooshian, an industry analyst at TBR, says of HP's overall Helion offering: "Helion is a big step for HP’s cloud portfolio and better rounds out its cloud stack and end-to-end portfolio."
Mooshian says: "TBR believes HP’s end goal with its cloud initiative is to build out a strong hybrid portfolio of public, private and managed cloud solutions as the market heads in the direction of hybridisation.
"A unified cloud brand from HP is long overdue, and if the company is successful at simplifying its go-to-market strategy, HP could become a more sought after provider of complete cloud solutions."
ACA illustrates all the main benefits of using an HP Helion cloud solution. Visit the HP site for more information on its cloud offering.