HP wants to be your cloud server provider

HP Cloudline

We’ve gotten really good at deploying virtual machines (VM). That’s a good thing because the cloud depends on VMs. But no matter how many VMs you can place on a server, at the end of the day you still need hardware.

That’s where Hewlett-Packard (HP) wants to be your friend. True, HP has its own cloud software suite, Helion. This set of programs is based on OpenStack. HP hasn’t put all its chips on OpenStack. Last fall, HP bought the open-source, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) private cloud program Eucalyptus. Then, in a shocking move, HP put Eucalyptus founder and CEO Marten Mickos in charge of its cloud operations.

I still don’t know quite what to make of HP’s  software moves. But, here’s what I do know: HP, at heart, is still a hardware company. So, regardless of where HP goes with cloud software and services, I take HP’s new inexpensive cloud server line Cloudline seriously.

HP, in partnership with Taipei-based electronics maker Foxconn, has been making servers for the cloud since 2014. What changed this March at Facebook’s Open Compute Summit is that HP has committed to light, cloud-specific servers. HP now wants to walk the tightrope between bare-bone white boxes and the fully loaded servers that have historically contributed significantly to HP’s bottom line.

Will it work? I think so.

Cloudline is a different design point,” said John Gromala, senior director of HP’s hyperscale product marketing. “We’re creating a design that’s for larger-scale data centers and built on open standards. There’s a lot of alignment with Open Compute with the features. There’s also a need for the most features at lowest cost.”

Companies have always wanted to pay the least amount for the biggest bang. The problem with this has always been that, as the truism goes, you can have any two of good, fast, and cheap. With Cloudline, and a proper cloud Open-Compute-based design, HP thinks it can deliver “good enough,” and fast and cheap.

True, for some jobs you’re still going to want more reliable systems such as HP’s mainstay Proliant line, but for a cloud deployment, Cloudline may be exactly what you need.

After all, these systems are designed to be used in rack-scale computing. In this style of server computing, functions that used to located in the server, such as cooling and power, may be part of the rack.

Does this strike your fancy? Starting on March 30, you can try it for yourself.

Don’t think you’re buying a technology pig in a poke. These servers have already been deployed in Qihoo 360, a major mainland China Internet company. Qihoo will be adding 20,000 more Cloudline servers to their existing 80,000 server data centers.

The HP Cloudline server family is based on the latest Intel Xeon E5-2600v3 processors. The lineup will consist of the following rack-mounted servers.

  • CL7300, a 2P server sled for memory and storage-rich compute applications.
  • CL7100, a 2P server sled for memory and storage-rich compute applications.
  • CL2200, a high-capacity, low-cost 2U 2P server for big data and storage-intensive cloud applications.
  • CL2100, a multipurpose 1U 2P server for memory and storage-rich compute applications.
  • CL1100, a low-cost 1U 2P server made to deliver efficient front-end web performance.

HP has yet to announce pricing for these, but I expect it to be aggressively low.

So, if you’re getting ready to do a major cloud server deployment, give Cloudline a long, hard look. It may just fit your company needs.


  1. What is the problem in that? HP has that gut to obtain a reputation of “gold” infrastructure provider (cloud).


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