Grounded in the Cloud
HP Helion brings together all the speed, agility and cost benefits of cloud computing, and with all the possibilities and interoperability of open source. Providing the cloud practitioner in you, the flexibility, reliability and security that enterprises need to move forward with confidence.

In this blog, we will explore the unique challenges and solutions of enterprise cloud deployment and usage. And in so doing, help you on your way to design, build and manage enterprise-grade infrastructure, platform and application services for the Cloud. Come join us now on this journey….

HP SaaS and the Cloud: Seeing the Light

Wouldn’t it be easier if you kept all of your lights on in your house all of the time? Think how cool that would be. No more getting out of bed to turn lights on. No more fumbling around aimlessly for a light switch. No more banging your shins on furniture. By keeping every light on, you’d be assured that whenever you need light, you’ll have light. 

Sure you’ll be over-provisioned 99% of the time, but hey, who’s getting tired of bruised shins? 

Well, if home lighting worked like traditional IT, this actually wouldn’t be a bad model. You could keep all the lights on to avoid extensively long light procurement cycles when demand increased. You’d pay for the lighting in a large, one-time capital investment so budgeting would be predictable. And, you’d have the peace of mind knowing that no matter the circumstance, each of your house guests would have light when they need it, ensuring lifestyle continuity and house guest satisfaction. 

Of course, the reason why we don’t use this capacity planning model is that home lighting is provided in an on-demand, pay-as-you-use service model.  

Sound familiar?

Elastic resources is an old concept  

Lighting is very similar to cloud compute resources – it’s elastic. The reason is obvious – the demand on lighting fluctuates to extremes and in condensed timeframes. Consider the following demand drivers: 

  • Time of day

  • Occupancy of the rooms

  • Need for lighting, e.g., sleeping or reading

  • Time of year (Christmas lights vs. daylight savings)

Fortunately for us, our homes come with power switches so that we can regulate our lighting consumption and manage the utility-based cost of electricity. In essence, we do our best to optimize our electricity bills by using lights only when needed and using energy efficient light bulbs to further minimize the cost. Also, if you’ve owned your home for a few years, you instinctively understand when your budget needs to increase depending on the situation, e.g., higher electricity bills during certain times of the year. After a while, you really aren’t surprised by the electricity bill as it becomes very predictable. 

Transforming Capacity Planning to Elasticity Planning 

So, when it comes to home lighting, you’ve instinctively used an ‘elasticity planning’ model in lieu of a capacity planning model. 

Pretty cool, huh?  

Interesting side note on elasticity planning in action… 

My sister’s family just came back from a week long vacation and their home power bill was 25% less than normal due to lower power consumption. 

Back to blog… 

If only optimizing the cost of cloud compute resources was that easy. Hmmm, well maybe it is that easy. After all, it seems like doing our best to minimize the cost of cloud would be paramount since lower costs is one of the cloud’s promises: 

  • How can we optimize the resources that are already in use?

  • How can we optimize the amount of resources depending on the fluctuating demand?

  • How can we make the variable pricing model of the cloud predictable? 

… and The BIG question is… 

  • How can we change from traditional on-premise capacity planning to cloud-based elasticity planning? 

The irony of the cloud 

What makes elasticity planning even more important to cloud is that elastically expanding more cloud compute resources doesn’t necessarily result in meeting more business demand. For example, if your application in the cloud is slow due to inefficient methods, expanding compute resources will not allow you to meet greater business demand. 

These types of performance problems will impact both low and peak usage.  The cloud creates what I refer to as a ‘business value trap’ – it beckons you with promises of lower cost, but may actually result in higher costs… oh the irony.

Making the cloud deliver on its cost promise 

The first step in elasticity planning is to tune your application, thereby optimizing the required compute resources. This is equivalent to using an energy efficient light bulb – higher efficiency leads to less electricity, which results in lower costs. 

Tuning the application means that method call chains and SQL statements are efficient and optimized. It also means that there are no memory leaks, so that all required CPU and memory resources are minimized to support maximum business demand. 

Once you’ve tuned the application in the cloud, you need to right-size the application’s compute resource footprint. In essence, you need to know the optimal compute resource footprints to support fluctuating business demands. 

Keeping a huge compute resource footprint deployed in the cloud to service low business demand makes about as much sense as keeping all of your lights on in your house during day time. 

So, if you benchmark properly through performance testing, you’ll know the various compute resource footprints needed to support low usage (off-season), medium usage (mid-season) and peak usage (holiday season). This results in two valuable outcomes – one, you’ll validate your application’s global class scale; and two, you’ll make your variable costs in the cloud extremely predictable. 

HP Cloud Assure for cost control 

Performing true elasticity planning in the cloud requires the proper toolset and expertise. HP Cloud Assure for cost control is a service provided by HP SaaS and is meant to help you with your elasticity planning transformation. Its intention is to assure you the right size of your cloud compute footprint, at the right cost.  

I actually had a great conversation with Dana Gardner, Software Productivity Analyst and Social Media Producer, on Cloud Assure for cost control. You may read a transcript or listen to the podcast. 

Avoid the business-value-trap of the cloud. Perform proper elasticity planning! 

IT X-Games: Spike Load Testing

"It scared me to death. It just doesn't make sense. You're still on your motorcycle at the height of the jump going 'this thing's not going to rotate around.' I knew it was possible. It just doesn't seem logical."

- Travis Pastrana, motocross rider quoted after trying his first back flip

If an IT executive or QA manager were asked if  a member of their load testing team do a midair back flip on a motorcycle, judging solely by their views on load testing, I’m pretty sure their response would be something like:

“Sure. They can start out on a leisure ride, and then they can gas it up the ramp and when they hit the apex, they’ll execute the back flip, then land safely, and then be on their way.”

Why do IT execs and QA managers believe that they can execute a successful spike load test by simply starting a traditional load test, and then ramping up the number of virtual users until they have a large spike load test? Very often, much to their disappointment, it’s not that simple. Spike load puts the extreme in load testing.

Like extreme sports, spike load testing raises the stakes of successful outcomes. The great news though is that when those outcomes are met, the results are amazing. Let’s review the attributes of a spike load test:

  • Uses tens and maybe even hundreds of thousands of virtual users (puts the rapid acceleration into the leisure ride)

  • Requires the orchestration of an extra-large, on-demand test bed with the compute power to generate the spike load (puts the ramp into the leisure ride)

  • Requires robust data planning and data refresh strategy (puts the airborne into the leisure ride)

  • Is bounded by a non-negotiable deadline because large load testing prepares for  the peak load of a specific event (puts the back flip into the leisure ride)

  • May involve Web 2.0 / RIA front ends, which invalidates previous benchmarking and adds complexity to the technical preparation (puts a flaming hoop into the leisure ride)

  • May involve load testing during a maintenance window, which means you must have a successful spikeload test without the possibility of a second chance (puts the Grand Canyon into the leisure ride)

The stakes rise with each added challenge that spike load testing brings to the table. Because the scale of a company’s business and reputation are directly tied to the scale of their websites, the extreme stakes must be dealt with for extreme business results.

There are three things that you absolutely need in order to successfully perform spike load testing and protect your business and reputation:

  1. An elastic test framework which can expand in an on-demand fashion to generate large loads

  2. An easy way to create virtual users for both traditional websites and for today’s rich-internet-application technology such as AJAX, Flex and Flash

  3. The experience, knowledge and best practices to streamline the large load testing processes to ensure your outcomes are met

Note that all three focus on not just ensuring outcomes, but also expediting the time-to-value.

Now, you may be thinking that I’m overusing the terms, ‘best practices’ and ‘experience’.  Quite frankly, I feel they are often overused, especially in the IT world. But when it comes to spike load testing, experience cannot be over-valued. Here is a list of questions that an experienced spike load tester should be able to answer with confidence:

  • How are virtual user scripts created so that they are ultra-scalable?

  • How are virtual users ramped up during a large load test?

  • What run-time settings should be set during a large load test?

  • What are the special data handling considerations for large load testing?

If you don’t know the answers to those questions, then your chances of successfully pulling off a large load test are greatly diminished.

Check out the new solution from HP SaaS called, HP Elastic Test. It’s architected and priced in a cloud compute, elastic fashion:

- adj
A common expression used to describe the ability to expand and contract compute resources in an on-demand fashion. The purchasing of elastic compute power is utility-based or otherwise known as ‘pay-as-you-go.

Example: Validating the performance of internet, global-class applications requires an elastic load testing solution.

It’s also backed by 9 years of spike load testing experience. HP SaaS performs the scripting and spike load test orchestration, using all of their experience and best practices.

Validating the scale of your website represents business stakes at extreme levels. If you think about it, load testing is all about risk mitigation and protecting your business and reputation. Why not extend your risk-mitigation strategy by going with a proven vendor with industry leading technology?

Or put in another way…

This is load testing…


This is load testing with HP Elastic Test….


 Any questions?

HP SaaS and the Cloud: One Person’s SaaS Service is Another Person’s Oil Changers

Introductions are in order

 Q: What do John Grisham, Tom Clancy and Patricia Cornwell have in common?

 A: They all had careers in fields that were a heck of a lot more interesting than IT Management.

This is why they all have what seems to be an endless reservoir of material on which to draw upon to create incredible reading experiences for their fans. It’s also the main reason why I haven’t become a multi-millionaire by writing a book called, ‘The Firm’, about some piece of firmware that is the front for a back-dating stock option scheme.

Alas, I’ll do my best to use my career experience in IT Management as motivation to provide you dear readers with interesting, insightful and yes, even controversial reading experiences. Of the numerous blogs written about the IT Management sphere, I don’t expect you to blindly select and read my blog posts out of the many – I hope to earn your interest and your repeat business.

Combustible engines: Game-changers that shake up the world

Of course I’ll be the first to admit that IT Management may actually be exciting, especially when a game-changer comes along and redefines all that we knew before. The game-changer I’ll be writing about is cloud computing, which has the potential to redefine the rules of how IT Management may function and support business outcomes. In short, cloud computing may very well be that game-changer that injects some excitement into our world and is the impetus for this new HP SaaS blogging initiative. Being part of the cloud has provided us with some strong opinions and also intrigued us on what others think about the cloud.

There are numerous ways to define cloud computing. I actually once heard somebody define cloud computing as a set of best practices used for datacenter management. I’m not saying this opaque definition is incorrect; however I’d certainly never define it this way.

So, for purposes of discussion, allow me to level set on how HP SaaS views cloud computing. From my perspective, we pretty much fall inline with how Gartner defines cloud computing in their press release, ‘Gartner Highlights Five Attributes to Cloud Computing’, June 29, 2009'.

The five key attributes are:

  1. Service-based

  2. Scalable and Elastic

  3. Shared (resources)

  4. Metered by Use

  5. Uses Internet Technologies

I believe that these five attributes, when used wisely, provide tremendous business benefits to both cloud consumer and cloud provider, especially with respect to Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Return On Investment (ROI).

Okay okay, I had to go there and use two of the most overly used three-letter acronyms in marketese. However in this case I truly believe the previous sentence is extremely valid and should be taken seriously. Please don’t let the appearance of ‘TCO’ and ‘ROI’ act as if they were the aftermarket wing that’s been glued on the back of a nice BMW 330ci thus turning a solid cloud computing benefit into a cheesy, throwaway line that’s the prose equivalent of a ‘Fast and The Furious’ 3-series with neon-green racing stripes.

Okay, no more digression (although I can’t promise).

Is cloud computing the next electric car?

The potential business benefits of the Cloud are very clear, yet Enterprises have yet to really adopt cloud computing as a major portion of their sourcing strategies. Here is an excerpt from the ‘Enterprises say no to cloud computing’. TechWorld article:

Forrester recently found that 25 percent of enterprises with at least 1,000 employees are using or plan to use hosted virtual server offerings such as Amazon EC2, and that fewer than 20 percent of smaller companies plan to do so. Earlier this year, Gartner said that cloud application infrastructure technologies are not yet mature and that adoption right now is limited mostly to "pioneers and trailblazers."

Inside this same article, the main inhibitor to enterprise’s adoption of cloud computing is the lack of security in the cloud.

Frank Gens, a chief analyst at IDC, also published a report called ‘Clouds and Beyond: Positioning for the Next 20 Years of Enterprise IT’, which adds application performance and availability to security, thus rounding out the top 3 inhibitors to cloud adoption.

The way I see it, these inhibitors roll up to a broader inhibitor which is that enterprises must give up some level of control of their IT environment to reap the benefits of cloud computing. It goes without saying that we in IT management, tend to be control freaks to the point of obsession/compulsion. And it’s this diminished ability to control that leads to uncertainties such as the lack of security in the cloud.

Of course, what’s obvious is that control must be relinquished as a byproduct of deploying an application off-premise. What may not be so obvious is that the amount of control that must be relinquished varies depending on how enterprises consume the cloud. To put it another way, the amount of responsibility the cloud consumer has with respect to security, performance and availability, is dynamic depending on how the cloud is being consumed.

60,000 mile check-up – whose responsibility?

Cloud computing is commonly broken down into three varieties:

  1. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)

  2. Platform-as-a-service (PaaS)

  3. Software-as-a-service (SaaS)

Click here to learn more about each variety.

Understanding the dynamic nature of responsibility between cloud consumer and cloud provider may be easier if you view the cloud as an actual cloud with varying levels of visibility.

Try to stay with me on this.

Visibility in a white misty cloud is much clearer versus visibility in a heavy, dark cloud.  Think of IaaS as a white misty cloud where visibility is, for the most part clear. In this cloud, you can see the host machines, the operating systems and the IP addresses. View PaaS as a grey cloud where visibility is somewhat obscured, yet there is still some visibility. In this cloud, you can see the platform, the development environment and some web services. View SaaS as a dark cloud where visibility is next to nil. In this cloud, all you can see is the web application that provides the service. What you can’t see is the type of host machines, the operating systems that are running and the private IP addresses.

It’s this dynamic change in visibility within the cloud that creates the dynamic change of responsibility between cloud consumer and cloud provider. Simply put, the more visible the cloud is, the more responsibility the consumer has. The less visible the cloud is, the more responsibility the cloud provider has.

To enforce my point, let’s take security in IaaS as an example. Because IaaS has clear visibility, it’s the consumer’s responsibility to ensure:

  • Network ports are secure

  • Operating systems are hardened

  • Middleware is protected

  • Applications are secure

It’s the provider’s responsibility to ensure:

  • Web application firewalls (WAFs) are in place and configured

Let’s take the same example but change IaaS to SaaS. SaaS is a much darker portion of the cloud where visibility is obscured. In this case the provider takes on most, if not all responsibility to ensure security of the application in the cloud.

Fixing a flat tire without an air compressor

For the most part, cars are still a very convenient way to get from point A to point B. However, would we still drive cars if mechanics and subject matter experts didn’t exist? What if we had to fix our own cars? What if tools didn’t exist and we had to not only fix our own cars, but also had to create our own tools to fix our cars?

There was another layer of innovation that was created as a result of the car invention. This innovation took form in both from a solution standpoint – e.g., oil filter wrench; and from a services standpoint – e.g., smog checks. It was this layer of innovation which enabled the car to eventually thrive and become the dominant mode of transportation in the world.

I believe that HP SaaS is providing services and solutions which transforms the unpaved, single track path to the cloud into a smooth multi-lane highway that would give the autobahn an inferiority complex. As evidence to my opinion, our first innovation to market was Cloud Assure, which enables enterprises to gain some measure of control back with respect to security, performance and availability of applications in the cloud. It addresses enterprise’s top three inhibitors to cloud adoption with the ultimate goal of enabling the enterprise to benefit from the cloud while mitigating risk.

The triple-crown and grand trifecta of automobiles

The three things I want from my car:

  1. better be fast

  2. better be reliable

  3. better be economically friendly

Sadly, I can only have two out of the three. If I get two; they will negate the third.

However, through our goal to make life easier for enterprises in the cloud, we at HP SaaS try our best to provide all three: 

  1. Our services and solutions are fast – they are ready to use immediately so that you have a very fast time to value

  2. Our services are reliable –  we have a 99.9% availability service level as well as 9 years of performing SaaS services for over 700 customers

  3. Our services are economically friendly – our services have proven to lower TCO by up to 30% and are term-based so that you may leverage operational expense budgets to achieve your business outcomes

Innovation begets innovation. Not only do I think we provide some measure of a supporting infrastructure layer of innovation to assist enterprises to the cloud, but I believe we do it in such a way that makes economic and value sense to the consumer. After all, who can resist the holy-trinity of services and solutions for cloud adoption?

What are your thoughts on the division of responsibility in the cloud? From the enterprise standpoint, will the cloud be the next Ford, or will it be the next electric car? What other supporting innovations should be brought to market to ease enterprises’ transition to the cloud. And, is there any way you can achieve the triple-crown of services and solutions towards cloud adoption besides going with a SaaS model?

I look forward to your thoughts.

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About the Author(s)
  • Archie delivers strategic solutions focused on today’s critical and evolving business needs, linked to the growing list of Strategic Enterprise Services including Hybrid Cloud, IM&A including Social Media, Security and Mobility from BYOD to mobile applications. Archie is the author of 4 books so far, and a founding director of the Australian Cloud Security Alliance chapter.
  • Lending 20 years of IT market expertise across 5 continents, for defining moments as an innovation adoption change agent.
  • Global Marketing Manager at HP in the Converged Application Systems organization, ESSN for Cloud Maps Solution which is a key part of HP’s Converged Cloud and CloudSystem strategy. Responsible for leading marketing for Cloud Maps with a focus on creating internal & external awareness, sales & partner enablement, and demand generation. You can follow me on Twitter @BelaniDeepak
  • Cloud and Automation solution architect in HP Software Research & Development.
  • This account is for guest bloggers. The blog post will identify the blogger.
  • 15 years in IT industry … started as sys admin, then became a consultant, instructor, solution architect and now in product marketing @HP
  • I am on the WW Cloud and Big Data Solutions Team. I help our customers adopt HP advanced solutions that are made up of products and services from across HP. I have over 30 years experience in the technology business including 17 years of business ownership.
  • Lisa-Marie Namphy is one of HP Cloud’s thought leaders, evangelists, and community organizers around OpenStack, open source, and cloud computing. Lisa-Marie is currently responsible for HP Helion and OpenStack solutions marketing, as well as running the local SFBay OpenStack user group meetups. Prior to that at HP Lisa-Marie ran product marketing initiatives for HP Cloud OS and HP Cloud Service Automation. Throughout her 20+ year career in enterprise software, Lisa-Marie has led efforts to evangelize product lines, launch brand new technologies such as HP Helion OpenStack®, and generate partnerships and business in previously untapped areas. Prior to joining HP’s Cloud Marketing team, Lisa-Marie held senior product marketing roles at Business Intelligence, Business Performance Management, and Operational Intelligence companies including Oracle, Hyperion, Vitria, and Adaptive Planning.
  • Matt is a Master Engineer leading the development of CLIs and SDKs for HP Cloud. Prior to this Matt led the development of the HP public cloud marketplace and developed the HP public cloud websites. He is a regular open source contributor having contributed to wide variety of projects in numerous languages including PHP, JavaScript, and Go. Matt is a published author and conference speaker.
  • Mike has been with HP for 30 years. Half of that time was in R&D, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product management, product marketing, and now, solution marketing. .
  • Nimish Shelat is currently focused on Datacenter Automation and IT Process Automation solutions. Shelat strives to help customers, traditional IT and Cloud based IT, transform to Service Centric model. The scope of these solutions spans across server, database and middleware infrastructure. The solutions are optimized for tasks like provisioning, patching, compliance, remediation and processes like Self-healing Incidence Remediation and Rapid Service Fulfilment, Change Management and Disaster Recovery. Shelat has 21 years of experience in IT, 18 of these have been at HP spanning across networking, printing , storage and enterprise software businesses. Prior to his current role as a World-Wide Product Marketing Manager, Shelat has held positions as Software Sales Specialist, Product Manager, Business Strategist, Project Manager and Programmer Analyst. Shelat has a B.S in Computer Science. He has earned his MBA from University of California, Davis with a focus on Marketing and Finance.
  • René J. Aerdts is chief technologist and leader of the Strategic Pursuits and Cloud Enablement organization within the Chief Technology Office for HP Enterprise Services. René is responsible for creating and delivering direction and content for consultative driven thematic pursuits, where leading edge technologies and offerings are part of the solution.
  • Roger has been trying to get out of Information Technology since programming COBOL on mainframes in the late '80's. But no matter in which continent he awoke, or whom employed him, his passion to enable people with technology was constant. So now he enables businesses to determine their strategy using the latest technologies like cloud computing, mobility, and big data. HP calls these Strategic Enterprise Services, Roger calls them "another day in the office."
  • Stephen Spector is a HP Cloud Evangelist promoting the OpenStack based clouds at HP for hybrid, public, and private clouds . He was previously at Dell promoting their Cloud solutions and was the open source community manager for OpenStack and at Rackspace and Citrix Systems. While at Citrix Systems, he founded the Citrix Developer Network, developed global alliance and licensing programs, and even once added audio to the DOS ICA client with assembler. Follow Stephen at @SpectorID
  • As a provisioning addict for 20 years, I was involved in projects in EMEA and the US as engineer, solution architect and project manager. In the last 2 years I'm in the Operations Orchestrations Community Assistance Team in HP Software R&D.
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