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Zorawar 'Biri' Singh, SVP Converged Cloud and HP Cloud Services, has some big responsibilities. Singh is responsible for HP's cloud efforts, which increasingly involve the open source OpenStack platform.
In an exclusive interview with Datamation, Singh detailed his views on the cloud and how HP can leverage the open approach and still provide competitive differentiation.
The importance of an open approach for the cloud is a key tenant of HP's cloud strategy overall. According to Singh, what customers are really looking for in the cloud is a single management backplane and an environment through which they can provision, secure and build services.
HP's converged cloud strategy involves managed, private and public cloud efforts. Singh noted that partners are an important component of HP's overall cloud strategy. Partners are important because they can help HP close the gap with Amazon Web Services (AWS).
In Singh's view AWS has a head start on the rest of the industry.
"AWS has a seven year lead," Singh said. "They have got rows and rows of features and functions that they have built out."
Singh added that there is a certain reality that HP will never 'catch up' to the level of feature and function richness that AWS already provides. However, in his view, by having a robust partner ecosystem, HP can deliver a very compelling cloud offering. Singh stressed that HP doesn't need to acquire, build or own all the technology components in the converged cloud.
"Partners look to HP to integrate a bunch of partners and bring the solution to the market," Singh said.
In addition to leveraging partners, leveraging open source technology is another core component of HP's cloud strategy.
"Open source is a phenomenal, well known model for innovation and we're trying to surf at the edge of that," Singh said.
While open source software isn't neccesarily a point of differentiation, there are things that HP can do to provide competitive differentiation for its solutions and service execution.
"We genuinely feel like our responsibility is to drive the converged cloud on behalf of our customers," Singh said. "We'll do, by any means necessary, whatever it takes – leveraging open source, acquiring a company, building the IP ourselves, whatever gets us there in a coherent way."
In terms of OpenStack, HP will continue to drive forward with its view of enterprise-grade requirements for the open source cloud platform. The melding of both private and public cloud components is another key emphasis.
HP is no stranger to dealing with markets that some view as commoditized. In the server space, HP competes against white-box server vendors. Singh noted that in the server space HP brought to the market the concept of integrated servers, storage and networking. HP's efforts in the cloud are not about simply standing up a bunch of servers either. Singh said that HP's cloud efforts are all about learning to operate cloud services at scale.
"It's the new IT model, cloud is really a new operating model," Singh said.
Singh noted that some analysts have said that the rise of the cloud is the end for the big server vendors. It's a view he doesn't share.
"We're investing in both ends of the Capex to Opex model," Singh said. "We're learning how to run services at scale and we're trying to innovate the hell out of the server, storage networking market."