The sun will soon set on HP's Helion Public Cloud

HP is doubling down on private and managed cloud capabilities instead, it says

Earlier this year HP let slip that the public cloud may not be a place it wants to compete, and on Wednesday it followed through on that suggestion with an announcement that it will shutter its Helion Public Cloud for good.

"We have made the decision to double down on our private and managed cloud capabilities," wrote Bill Hilf, senior vice president and general manager for HP Cloud, in a blog post announcing the news.

Hybrid infrastructures are "the future of enterprise IT," Hilf wrote, and HP will continue to invest in its Helion OpenStack platform, which powers its Helion CloudSystem private cloud offering.

Its Helion Public Cloud, however, will close its doors on Jan. 31, 2016.

It's a significant retreat for HP and comes just two weeks before the company will split its self in two parts. While rivals like IBM and Oracle continue to build out public cloud services, HP will take a tack more similar to Dell and partner to offer a choice of public cloud offerings. 

"Our customers are telling us that the lines between all the different cloud manifestations are blurring," Hilf said. "We will move to a strategic, multiple partner-based model for public cloud capabilities."

HP has already added greater support for Amazon Web Services as part of its hybrid delivery with HP Helion Eucalyptus, and it has worked with Microsoft to support Office 365 and Azure, he noted.

"We also support our PaaS customers wherever they want to run our Cloud Foundry platform in their own private clouds, in our managed cloud, or in a large-scale public cloud such as AWS or Azure," Hilf added.

Jay Lyman, research manager for cloud platforms with 451 Research, said the move "reflects the fact that public cloud is mostly dominated by Amazon, with growing presence of Microsoft's Azure and significant presence of Google's public cloud."

Amazon and its closest rivals have all expanded their reach and capabilities, he added. Meanwhile, HP seems to have had better traction with its HP Helion OpenStack distribution in private clouds and hybrid clouds than in public cloud, Lyman noted.

Indeed, HP's public cloud offerings have raised even more questions over the years than has the rest of its cloud strategy.

Given Hilf's early indication that such plans may be afoot, the move isn't too much of a surprise, said Glenn O'Donnell, a vice president at Forrester Research.

"They've realized they can't compete in the hyperscale cloud world," O'Donnell said. "And it's true -- they can't. We're seeing a shakeout here, and the strong are getting stronger."

In HP's case, of course, there's particular interest in moves like this because the company is also battling so many other problems.

Is it a sign of the beginning of the end for HP?

"Frankly I don't know the answer to that, but this alone is not any kind of serious blow to their future success," O'Donnell said. "They've got enough other blows to worry about."

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