The range of choices that enterprises have when it comes to both locations and methods for running applications and other critical workloads continues to expand at a dizzying rate. From public cloud service providers like Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure, to on-premise private cloud data centers, as well as traditional legacy applications, to containerized, orchestrated microservices, the range of computing options available to today’s businesses is vast.
As interesting as some of the new solutions may be, however, the selection of one versus another has often been a binary choice that necessitated complicated and expensive migrations from one location or application type to another. In fact, there are many organizations that have investigated making these kinds of transitions, but then stopped, either before they began or shortly after having started, once they realized how challenging and/or costly these efforts were going to be.
Thankfully, a variety of tech vendors have recognized that businesses are looking for more flexibility when it comes to options for modernizing their IT environments. The latest effort comes via an extension of the partnership between HPE and Google Cloud, which was first detailed at Google’s Cloud Next event in April. Combining a variety of different HPE products and services with Google Cloud’s expertise in containerized applications and the multi-cloud transportability enabled by Google’s Anthos, the two companies just announced what they call a hybrid cloud for containers.
Basically, the new service allows companies to create modern, containerized workloads either in the cloud or leveraging cloud software technologies on premise, then run those apps locally on HPE servers and storage solutions but manage them and run analytics on them in the cloud via Google Cloud. In addition, thanks to Anthos’ ability to work across multiple cloud providers, those workloads could be run on AWS or Azure (in addition to Google Cloud), or even get moved back into a business’ own on-premise data center or into a co-location facility they rent as needs and requirements change. In the third quarter of this year, HPE will also be adding support for its Cloud Volumes service, which provides a consistent storage platform that can be connected to any of the public cloud services and avoids the challenges and costs of migrating that data across different service providers.
On top of all this, HPE is going to make this offering part of their GreenLake, pay-as-you-go service consumption model. With GreenLake, companies only pay for whatever services they use—similarly to how cloud computing providers offer infrastructure as a service (IaaS). However, HPE extends what companies like Amazon do by providing a significantly wider range of partners and products that can be put together to create a finished solution. So, rather than having to simply use whatever tools someone like Amazon might provide, HPE’s GreenLake offerings can leverage existing software licenses or other legacy applications that a business may have or may already use. Ultimately, it comes down to a question of choice, with HPE focused on giving companies as much flexibility as possible.
The GreenLake offerings, which HPE rebranded about 18 months ago, are apparently the fastest growing product the company has—the partner channel portion of the business grew 275% over the last year according to the company (though obviously from a tiny base). They’ve become so important, in fact, that HPE is expected to extend GreenLake into a significantly wider range of service offerings over the next several years. In fact, in the slide describing the new HPE/Google Cloud offering, HPE used the phrase “everything as a service,” implying a very aggressive move into a more customer experience-focused set of products.
What’s particularly interesting about this latest offering from the two companies is that it’s indicative of a larger trend in IT to move away from capital-intensive hardware purchases towards a longer-term, and theoretically stickier, business model based on operating expenses. More importantly, the idea also reflects the growing expectations that IT suppliers need to become true solution providers and offer up complete experiences that businesses can easily integrate into their organizations. It’s an idea that’s been talked about for a long time now (and one that isn’t going to happen overnight), but this latest announcement from HPE and Google clearly highlights that trends seem to be moving more quickly in that direction.
From a technology perspective, the news also provides yet more evidence that for the vast majority of businesses, the future of the cloud is a hybrid one that can leverage both on-premise (or co-located) computing resources and elements of the public cloud. Companies need the flexibility to have capabilities in both worlds, to have additional choices in who manages those resources and how they’re paid for, and to have the ability to easily move back and forth between them as needs evolve. Hybrid cloud options are really the only ones that can meet this range of needs.
Overcoming the complexity of modern IT still remains a significant challenge for many organizations, but options that can increase flexibility and choice are clearly going to be important tools moving forward.