Hewlett-Packard takes its Helion OpenStack Cloud to China

Beijing, Forbidden City, Hall of Supreme Harmony

The cloud land grab (cloud grab?) in China continued this week with news that Hewlett-Packard inked a deal with a local provider to build and operate HP Helion–based clouds for Chinese customers.

Beijing UnionRead Information Technology Ltd., the local partner, is a big CDN and hybrid cloud operator in China and gives HP the “feet on the street” that U.S. companies need to build presence in this key market. Microsoft Azure is in China courtesy of its partnership with 21Vianet, for example. In December, Amazon Web Services said it’s working with multiple partners, including ChinaNetCenter and SINNET, to bring its planned China Region online.

HP Co-Founder Dave Packard meeting with Chinese Communist Party Chairman Jiāng Zé Mín taken in 1983.  China HP was established two years later.

HP Co-Founder Dave Packard (right) meeting with Chinese Communist Party Chairman Jiāng Zé Mín in 1983. China HP was established two years later.

China is a huge market for these U.S. providers who have faced challenges selling abroad since the Edward Snowden disclosed that the U.S. sometimes used technology gear as trojan horses to spy on foreign governments of U.S. HP EVP Bill Veghte touched on that during his chat at Structure in June.

Huge market on tap

The Helion services should come online next year, said Wing Kin Cheung, VP and GM of HP Cloud China. The Chinese market, while facing economic woes, is still seen as a huge growth opportunity — it’s about five to seven years behind the U.S., Wing noted, but is growing 50 percent faster.

A lot of data center capacity was built out over the past year, and it’s time to start rolling out applications, he said in an interview.

The goal is to offer a variety of “community” clouds for different businesses and to offer basic IaaS capabilities, as well as the Helion Development Platform (or PaaS) for software development and deployment, along with an array of HP and third-party SaaS applications.

HP has some strong organizational roots in China. China HP launched in 1985 as the first Sino-U.S. joint venture.

Location of cloud resources is critical, as Gigaom contributor David Mytton has written – both because of concerns over latency and because of local data sovereignty issues.

Cloud location is key

Dritan Suljoti, co-founder and chief product officer for Catchpoint Systems, a web performance monitoring company, ran a set of cloud storage accessibility tests in China from August 7 through August 10 and found that the providers with local presence did significantly better both in terms of overall availability and response times.

Cathchpoint pinged storage services from Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace and Google from 18 monitoring points in mainland China. Microsoft Azure’s Hong Kong region reported 99.9 percent availability and 494 ms response time. Amazon S3, out of Singapore, reported 32.6 percent availability with 1,571 ms average response time.

Rackspace showed 99.3 percent availability and 829 ms response time. Google storage came back with 9.4 percent availability and 1,900 ms response time. In its notes, Catchpoint said Google and Rackspace both use geographically distributed infrastructure, so I need some more detail on what that means and will update this as needed. Google has presence in Singapore; Rackspace in Hong Kong.

Generally, however, those findings bolster the prevailing wisdom that proximity matters in cloud and putting resources near the intended audience — whether for performance or political reasons or both — is key.

HP is clearly aware of that.

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