HP Gets With the (Developer) Program. CEO pimps PaaS, NoSQL

I got back yesterday from a couple of days at the HP Analyst Summit in SF. Its been a really tough week personally- an eye injury made the trip far less fun that it might have been. Given my vision is blurry, I will try and keep this post short and too the point.

Firstly, its time to dust off my trusted “blimey, the CEO is pimping Ruby” meme.  In his opening keynote new HP CEO Leo Apotheker said that HP planned to build both a public cloud, and also, specifically, a Platform as a Service offering.

“We want to be a PaaS company”- we’ll have a complete suite for developers.”

Public cloud Infrastructure As a Service (IaaS) is to be expected from HP as a way to sell servers and storage – PaaS not so much. HP’s history in middleware is chequered to say the least, and PaaS is modern shorthand for middleware in the stack burger. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to glean any technical details at all about the PaaS offering during the event, so it might have just been CEOware – but CTO Shane Robison had a notable chart, showing not just PaaS, but multi-language PaaS. Java and .NET you’d absolutely expect from HP – Ruby, Python and Javascript not so much. In terms of customer demand Robison was clear:

“Customers asking HP for public cloud support. Customers asking for more sophisticated billling support”

Game on Amazon AWS.

But back to Leo: he also made an extremely aggressive anti-Oracle statement, which any modern web developer would absolutely recognise:

“traditional relational databases are becoming less and less relevant to the future stack”.

The call to NoSQL is a wakeup call because unlike IBM, Oracle and Microsoft, HP doesn’t have a relational database franchise to protect. Sure it sells a boatload of servers to run relational databases, but its not locked in from a customer information perspective. HP and VMware are in a similar situation here, and its worth reading my post about VMware in the post-relational era for more context.

What might the era of Oracle database offload look like? Something like this probably- see my case study from The Guardian Newspaper. Oracle is great for transactional workloads- we all know that – but it should not be the default choice for all data storage. Oracle is overly heavyweight, and demands design time data model decision-making which makes very little sense in an age of linked data, used and reused in new contexts. Its also just too expensive to be used as a straightforward a bucket of bits; MySQL is more appropriate for that role – but developers are moving on when it comes to graph and document databases. Check out my client Neo4J, for example, as a modern, made for purpose, graph store. But the web is churning out a host of interesting new stores- Cassandra is a speedy key value store database built and open sourced by web companies. Though I am sure HP will be aggressively pushing its own Vertica database for column-oriented apps, one of the first acquisitions of the Leo era, there are surely more acquisitions to come. It seems highly likely it will make a play for Hadoop master packager, our client Cloudera.

Anyway I seem to be getting off topic. Suffice to say HP is now having the kind of conversation that RedMonk is interested in. Less silence, more interesting.

But of course HP’s posture to developers needs to change dramatically, it needs to lean in, rather than back (there is nothing puts off developers faster than disinterest) and there are hints that this is happening. Posture comes from the CEO down…

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James, aka @Monkchips is co-founder of RedMonk, the open source analyst firm, which specialises in developer advocacy and analytics.