HP Cloud starts to Rain!

Posted in: Cloud, Technical Track

So HP Cloud is finally yielding for some beta rain since their announcement late Sep.

It started late September when I signed up for private beta testing. They sent me this when I signed up

Thanks for your interest in HP Cloud Services. We will be sure to follow up with you when access becomes available. Since we’re only accepting a limited number of customers for our private beta based on customer profiles, we cannot guarantee that every request will be accepted.

However, we will review your submission and follow-up with you directly.

Two weeks ago, I got invited to join the beta and start testing the platform.

What’s offered?

Currently, you can create computing instances with different hardware/operating systems configurations and also the ability to upload files to the storage containers (think of it almost like Amazon’s Web Services and S3); more on that later.

There are some restrictions though to what you can do, including :

– Max Compute usage limited to 5 instances.

– Limit HP Cloud Object Storage usage to 2TB of total data across the account.

– Only use this beta for testing purposes. No production workloads should be hosted on the system at this time.

Initially I was asked to only create instances in one compute cluster location, out of two, but later this restriction was lifted.

First impressions

– Upon signing in, I was asked for billing information and a credit card; card shouldn’t be billed during the beta period, only when it emerges into production.

– After completing the sign up process, I was presented by a simple (so simple) interface with four main tabs:

# Dashboard : Contains links to the compute cluster locations (“US West 2 – AZ1″,”US West 2 – AZ2”) and Object Storage


# Compute: just links to compute cluster locations (“US West 2 – AZ1”, “US West 2 – AZ2”)

# Storage: Lists only Object Storage management

# Account: Info about contact (email, password, name), billing, notifications ..etc

– Documentation is really basic, an alpha phase maybe. There’s not much about, for example, the computing power, walk-through’s or anticipated new features. You can have a look at knowledge base for more content.

– You can mount instances based on Linux only currently, no MS Windows but HP plans adding that later. I could get MS windows virtualized inside Linux, I’ll post about that in a separate blog.

Compute instances

Creating a server (compute instance) is a piece of cake; choose Size (hardware configuration), Install image (OS), define number of instances, whether to have a Public IP and you’re set.


The hardware options are classified per VCPU, memory & storage capacity; pretty simple selection. Linux is the sole OS currently, with Ubuntu as the dominant alternative; HP vows to add more in the future.

Naming the size doesn’t look to follow a pattern as the “Xlarge” has more resources than “large” but “Xsmall” has less resources than “small”!

There are not much info about the internal works; I didn’t see enough info about CPU capacity, the storage tier or the virtualization (Rackspace & Amazon are using XEN as far as I know).

Testing an instance

– After creating an instance, you can attach a Public IP to it by just clicking a button.

– To connect to the instance, you are offered a private key file to use. Simple instructions are also offered

1- Download your private key file: hpdefault.pem
2- For SSH to work, ensure your key is protected:
chmod 400 hpdefault.pem
3- Open your SSH client (such as Terminal).
4- Connect via your server’s IP address

– I use Putty as SSH client. Since putty doesn’t understand PEM files, I used PUTTYgen to convert it to PPK format.

Connected to the public IP of the instance and used user name “ubuntu”. Following is for a “large” instance (4 VCPUs , 8GB RAM) with Ubuntu 11.10

login as: ubuntu
Authenticating with public key “imported-openssh-key”
Welcome to Ubuntu 11.10 (GNU/Linux 3.0.0-12-virtual x86_64)

* Documentation: https://help.ubuntu.com/

System information as of Sun Feb 5 22:26:09 UTC 2012

System load: 0.09 Users logged in: 1
Usage of /: 37.9% of 9.84GB IP address for eth0:
Memory usage: 77% IP address for vmnet1:
Swap usage: 0% IP address for vmnet8:
Processes: 165

Get cloud support with Ubuntu Advantage Cloud Guest
[email protected]:~$

We can dig some hardware info

Looks like we have Intel here. The following entry repeats four times (4 VCPUs we have)

vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 2
model name : QEMU Virtual CPU version 0.14.0
stepping : 3
cpu MHz : 2666.760
cache size : 4096 KB
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 4
wp : yes
flags : fpu de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pse36 clflush mmx fxsr sse sse2 syscall nx lm rep_good nopl pni cx16 popcnt hypervisor lahf_lm
bogomips : 5333.52
clflush size : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes : 40 bits physical, 48 bits virtual

I’ve been testing the machine for a bit so far and could run Windows 2008 under Vmware to test SQL server as well.


The current beta is pretty simple to use and works fine but I think HP has a lot of work to be done here including

## Stabilizing the environment: I’ve had problems powering some instances with no given reasons.

## There should be more “locations”, not only west coast, for fault-tolerance

## Offering more solutions like Microsoft & Other Apps.

## Better documentation & knowledge-base.

## More developer APIs and tools.

## Instance monitoring capability.

HP has a huge customer base across the board and can offer the solution to them to fit their needs so I think it can find adoption fast. However, for small business, Amazon is still preferred, since they have gone a long way here.


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