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Hewlett-Packard readies cCell cloud package for SMEs

HP will launch cCell, a range of hardware and software to support decentralized cloud deployments, at the Cebit trade show next month

Hewlett-Packard will launch cCell, a package of standardized technologies to support the decentralized deployment of clouds, at next month's Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany.

The cCell package was initially developed for Germany's many small and medium-size enterprises, which are often skeptical of outsourcing, said Klaus Berle, head of HP's Cloud Competence Center.

To counter that skepticism, HP tailored cCell so that it can be deployed by local or regional IT suppliers, Volker Smid, head of HP Germany, told IDG's Computerwoche.

"The decentralized German IT environment requires a distributed cloud model," he said, and that prompted HP to adopt a cell structure for its latest cloud product.

Computing, storage and backup are the basic functions available for cCell users to rent. HP is looking to its partners to enrich these infrastructure components with other services and applications on a SaaS (software as a service) subscription model.

There are three basic payment models. Businesses building their own private cloud using cCell hardware components will pay a fixed fee and a volume-based usage fee. Service providers, too, can pay HP in the same way, reselling the capacity to SMEs on whatever basis they choose. And finally, HP will offer businesses capacity in its own data centers in Frankfurt and Rüsselsheim in Germany, on virtual private or public cloud models.

"Five years experience with our utility services lead us to believe that this will be the most common model," said Bernd Gill, manager of service innovation at HP Germany.

The service will cost from €5.94 (US$7.90) per day for a small server consisting of a virtual CPU running Linux with 2GB of RAM, with 10GB of storage space costing €6.66 per day. There's also a one-off installation fee of around €9,500, which almost doubles to €18,000 if the server is hosted in the customer's data center and not in HP's.

The minimum contract is four weeks. "If the customer doesn't want it after that time, we pick up the system and install it in our own data center," said Gill.

In its own data centers, HP offers cCell with three levels of availability, from 99 percent to 99.9 percent. In decentralized operations, on customer premises, HP only guarantees uptime of 99.5 percent.

Three OSes are available: Windows Server 2008, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Suse Linux Enterprise.

Technically, there are three elements to cCell.

The cloud system provides hardware infrastructure including servers, storage and a management unit for monitoring, provisioning, orchestration and service catalogs. These components can be installed on customer premises, at a service provider, or in HP's data center.

The Enterprise Cloud Services Utilities that HP has offered for five years now provide on-demand services for backup, storage, computing, analytics, SharePoint or archiving.

Finally, the HP Aggregation Platform offers essential middleware functions including a cloud connector, a SaaS broker, management and security systems and an automation and accounting platform. It sits in HP's data center and provides services to centralized or decentralized cCell components.

The aggregation broker functions like an application store, through which users can search for and order services. HP's cloud model will allow partners to build a white-label or own-brand virtual marketplace, with no reference to HP.

"We are building an ecosystem around cCell," said HP's Berle. "In this model, partners can offer their customers their own services. Our cells make the necessary infrastructure available, and the broker integrates the various applications."

Berle's claim puts HP in illustrious company, as SAP, Fujitsu and Atos have all announced comparable marketplace and partner initiatives.

Rüdiger Spies, an enterprise applications analyst with IDC, said: "With cCell HP has announced nothing fundamentally new, technically, but it has skillfully combined existing technologies."

"It's a new and interesting marketing model for HP hardware. The systems are not sold to customers, but rented out," he said.

Crucial to cCell's success will be how many software and solution partners HP can recruit. The company will show the first results and initial partners at Cebit, on Bitkom's "Cloud Computing World" booth in Hall 4 A58.

Cebit runs from March 6 through March 10.


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