Although there has been much talk about the cloud for some years now, the term is really rather nebulous, and can refer to lots of different implementations.
Just for starters, there are public and private flavours, plus hybrid versions that blend characteristics of both. For example, a service might use public cloud storage for archiving, but rely on private cloud storage for data in active use for day-to-day business.
However, combining clouds in this way can lead to incompatibilities and configuration difficulties, particularly if the two cloud types are from multiple vendors that use incompatible systems.
This is where HP Helion can help businesses looking to take the hybrid route so they can benefit from the best of both worlds.
Take away the hassle
The key issue with a hybrid cloud is consistency across the public and private portions of the service.
The system will be a whole lot more complicated and costly if multiple forms of configuration management, change control, security and fault management need to be supported. Budgeting will be less than straightforward, too.
Hybrid clouds often start with private or public clouds and then build towards the other type. The more change this entails, then the more difficult and expensive the process is likely to be.
But HP Helion is available as both public and private offerings, with a consistent management strategy operating between the two, so transitioning from one to the other, or blending them together, will be streamlined.
Core to this strategy is HP's policy of adopting the open source OpenStack platform. The HP Helion Public Cloud service has been running on OpenStack since 2012, and HP is now offering a complete suite of options for building private cloud implementations, based on OpenStack.
The HP Helion OpenStack Community edition is free to download and use for systems with up to 30 compute nodes and 600 virtual machines, making it perfect for designing and testing a private cloud configuration.
Then the full HP Helion OpenStack can be used to provide enterprise-grade private cloud, with support for thousands of computer nodes and tens of thousands of virtual machines, which HP has demonstrated with its own use of OpenStack for its Public Cloud service.
Workloads can be transferred between HP Helion Public Cloud and HP Helion OpenStack, facilitating the process of producing a hybrid cloud configuration. An extensive set of APIs and developer tools can be used to further ease the creation of a custom hybrid solution, with a supportive developer network including all the necessary documentation and demos, plus experts on hand to provide advice on how to build services.
Since both Public and Private HP Helion clouds use OpenStack as their basis, integrating the two can call upon the same fundamental OpenStack modules.
So a company starting with an HP Helion Public Cloud can transition their offering to a hybrid implementation using the same development expertise.
All the bases covered
HP is able to provide every element of the cloud platform, from hardware to software and services. So customers can be sure of compatibility as they build up the different parts of their hybrid cloud.
A range of hardware is available for every need, from the fully integrated HP ConvergedSystem for Cloud, to HP BladeSystem blade servers, and even regular HP ProLiant rack-mount servers.
HP can also supply primary storage in the form of HP 3PAR, and network fabric in the form of HP FlexFabric. However, HP Helion can work with multiple platforms and hypervisors, so there is no need to discard existing implementations with a move to HP Helion.
Thanks to the common architecture across private, public, managed and hybrid clouds, users get the same application experience regardless of backend.
A smoother transition
There are a number of reasons why a company might consider the transition to a hybrid cloud difficult.
For a start, they may not have cloud experts on staff to implement the system, and they might consider the cost to move to a new infrastructure potentially prohibitive. They may also be worried about the important applications that they have running on legacy hardware, which will need to be maintained even when their IT services are moved to the cloud.
Worst of all, they might be concerned about the maturity and security of the cloud, considering the technology has only quite recently appeared, despite the rapid growth since then.
All of these problems are addressed by HP Helion. The fully integrated platform is designed to be easily operated by users once installed. Professional services are available, to help with the setup, so company employees can focus on delivering services rather than worrying about the infrastructure supporting them.
The concerns about cost are also unfounded, as the majority of businesses that have moved over to a cloud configuration report a reduction in IT costs.
The flexibility of the cloud means that services can be grown and shrunk as required, and a hybrid cloud can be even more flexible, with the ability to shift the balance between public and private dynamically as needs change.
The HP Helion system can even provide traditional IT, so that the legacy workloads can be moved over to cloud hosting. Templating systems such as HP Cloud Maps, used in conjunction with HP's CloudSystem software platform, can mean it takes just a few mouse clicks and a few minutes to deploy instances of generic application environments.
This will accelerate the migration process, and also means that a cloud-deployed legacy workload can easily scale as needs grow. Data centres will be simplified by the ability to pool server, storage and networking resources together and manage them holistically.
HP Helion also helps maintain consistent security across the public and private portions of the hybrid cloud, so this can be managed holistically as well.
The hybrid cloud can give companies the ultimate flexibility that they need to remain dynamic and able to respond to the rapid changes experienced in the contemporary business world.
The public and private clouds can be called upon when their particular strengths are best suited. But any combination of disparate worlds can lead to disharmony, with potentially costly consequents.
HP Helion provides the opportunity for a consistent platform and strategy across public and private cloud implementations, so your company can benefit from the potential of the transition to a hybrid cloud, without the pain.