HP Takes the Consulting Fight to IBM With Cloud Design Service

HP (s HPQ), continuing down its consulting-based path to cloud computing revenues, today introduced its Cloud Design Service, an attempt to capitalize on its role in designing private cloud infrastructures, including the Department of Defense’s much-ballyhooed RACE platform. While HP’s cloud portfolio might be incomplete overall, it’s difficult to argue with the company’s decision to one-up try to distinguish itself from IBM (s IBM) in the services department, especially when the idea of private clouds is coming into its own.

Essentially, the Cloud Design Service aims to assist customers in building their own clouds by assessing their specific needs and proposing an individually tailored plan of action. Because HP relies upon its own cloud reference architecture and ITIL v3 or best practices, customers can be confident that HP isn’t just shooting from the hip in regard to how their clouds should look. According to its Cloud Consulting Services web site, HP also will provide customers with a “[d]etailed bill of materials and implementation plan,” which supposedly will ease concerns over unpleasant cost surprises when it comes time to move from planning to building. The Cloud Design Service is a natural evolutionary step after HP’s pre-existing information- and business strategy-based Cloud Workshop and Cloud Roadmap services.

From the company’s perspective, the best part about the new service is likely to be that it takes HP’s cloud consulting a step beyond what IBM (or anybody else, really) currently offers. For now, IBM’s cloud consulting options resemble HP’s prior collection in that they revolve around creating business models that utilize cloud computing, but do not address the ground-level concerns of actually building a cloud infrastructure. IBM does offer its own, not exclusively cloud-focused infrastructure-planning services, but they appear more strategic, while HP’s new service appears more operational. In short, IBM will tell customers what services and infrastructural elements they might need to achieve certain goals, whereas HP will give customers a ready-to-build blueprint.

However, the limitations of HP’s new service are indicative of its cloud strategy as a whole. By focusing on consulting and infrastructure, HP loses value for customers who want to leverage external cloud services, as well as internal cloud services, without seeking third-party solutions. After all, not every customer will have security and compliance needs on par with the Department of Defense. IBM, on the other hand, offers a cadre of external cloud services, including ones for storage and test development, and intends to roll out even more. For businesses willing to let a major vendor design their cloud infrastructures, the inclusion of these complementary services could be a major selling point, even if it means less guaranteed bang for their consulting bucks.

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