HP Not So Sure About EC2

black_stretch_logo1HP (s hpq) seems to believe that firms delivering software and possibly platforms as a service will do better than those delivering infrastructure as a service (much like Amazon’s (s amzn) EC2). In its final discussion with customers about cloud computing this week, HP executives talked about research goals and identifying workflows for the cloud, as well as its vision of the cloud-filled future.

HP thinks IT will be delivered as a service by thousands of different providers, who in turn will be cobbled together to offer even more services. Sort of like an Escher drawing. For enterprises, there will be providers that can offer service-level agreements that guarantee reliability, and the resulting everything-as-a-service world will result in less IT complexity.

On the service provider side, that reduction in complexity will be the result of the service provider delivering only one application. That singular focus will enable the vendor to scale out the application to meet demand and still make a profit thanks, in part, to the reduction in complexity. It’s these vendors that HP wants to sell to, and to whom it’s referring when it calls itself the service provider’s service provider.

All of which sounds lovely, except that may not be the way cloud computing pans out. HP appears to see the benefits of cloud computing as a way for vendors to deliver a single service, kind of like having a single chef make the world’s supply of macaroni and cheese. The providers behind these monolithic clouds could scale while still making a profit and offer service guarantees because they would control the infrastructure. Others could build services on top of them, and data could then be shared across different applications.

However in HP’s worldview, providers delivering infrastructure as a service will not be as able to scale up, keep prices down and still maintain profitability because they will be focused on delivering the basic ingredients for chefs who want to make mac and cheese — as well as for those who want to make hot dogs, those concentrating of making chicken nuggets, etc.

Someone should tell Amazon, as EC2 is one of the IaaS providers given as an example of services whose costs will still increase with demand, meaning they can’t deliver the service profitably. I’m pretty sure others will have another opinion on this, seeing value in offering different layers of the cloud.

For more on HP’s vision, here are links to articles on the previous two sessions. I will add links to the webinars when HP posts them next week.

Session 1: HP Confines the Cloud for the Enterprise

Session 2: Cloud Computing Is a Tool, Not a Strategy