How To Build A Trusting Partner Ecosystem – HP Cloud

Through a series of announcements made at HP Discover Frankfurt (detail below), HP has signaled that it intends to build, support, and foster it’s partner ecosystem centered around it’s OpenStack-based IaaS offering rather than building supplementary services themselves – even for key services such as their choice of a PaaS solution in ActiveState Stackato .

Stackato is a fork-and-extend (more language support, extended UI, etc.) private PaaS (ie. run anywhere) effort based off of VMware (soon to be spun off) CloudFoundry that supports multiple languages and deep integration potential into your current environment.

HP Cloud also announced workload migration capabilities through a collection of partner offerings including AppZero – an application virtualization solution that encapsulates an application in a “bundle” that then becomes much more portable than traditionally installed software.  Application virtualization is a key strategy for applications that are not “scale aware” to leverage the agility that cloud computing can provide.   Promises of such concepts as cloud-bursting require workload mobility to move between cloud service providers.  The smallest unit of measure in such an example moves from the entire virtual machine (big – sometimes huge) to the application itself (most often much more manageable in size).

It’s no secret that other public cloud providers have stepped on the toes of their own partners by debuting services that are in direct competition with existing third party services – the most recent example being Redshift – Amazon’s data warehousing/analysis offering.  Several vendors with solutions in this space that are tightly integrated with AWS are left to decide where they stand in relation to Redshift and are establishing new differentiation in light of the change.

Even the selection of Akamai as the CDN of choice powering HP Cloud is a partner-vs-build (or at least host) choice that proves interesting and is more evidence that HP is making a concerted effort to focus on building a core platform and fostering growth around it.

There are downsides to the approach, however.  HP may find itself losing some of the control around the details of it’s service offering to it’s partners and their technical direction.  In discussions this week I have learned that HP Cloud will maintain support for Amazon EC2 compatible APIs as long as the OpenStack project does the same – which is definitely not a given going forward.  These are key service consideration that HP are likely best in control of – but because of the reliance of their partners/technology selections they find themselves in a less than desirable position in terms of service leadership.

It would seem that this is the balancing act that service providers must straddle to promote a healthy and trusting group of partners.  The old adage rings true – “If it were easy everyone would do it.”