We're moving into a world where great-grandma's photo scrapbooks are virtual and HP proprietary servers live in clouds. With a little patience, one of those servers will be an HP 3000 this year. In an odd omission, this month the HP Unix servers don't qualify for cloud status with one supplier — Hewlett-Packard.
The HP Cloud (hpcloud.com) has been open in a public beta this month. It's a spot where Windows and Linux computing services are available using virtualized servers. HP's got ProLiant boxes racked up and sliced up into customer-sized computing pieces in HP Cloud.
No, it's not free — but the cost starts to approach the fabled "too cheap to meter" claims from last century's nuclear-powered electricity rollout. Especially if you compare it to ownership of the iron. A Standard Large Instance costs 32 cents an hour. That gives you a 4-virtual core system with 16GB of RAM and a 240GB disk for um, $230 a month. A server you won't pay to power up, or ever have to move. Add bandwidth charges and you get $300 monthly. So HP will put your 4-core server into its cloud. Just not an HP-UX server.
One well-connected PA-RISC developer explained that HP's clouds are pretty much a non-starter for existing long-time HP customers. You can't host HP-UX apps in HP's cloud, just Windows and Linux. Long-time customers have both proprietary and industry standard apps. HP has a chance to change this, though, so long as it can find a way for HP-UX to live on Intel Xeon chips in the cloud host. Maybe an Itanium emulator is required.
Meanwhile, the users of HP 3000 MPE apps will have a cloud option available to them by the end of this year, so long as Stromasys has its way with the new HPA/3000 Charon technology. The most affordable instance of this emulator is in a non-host configuration, run from a cloud. There's talk about using Amazon's EC2 as the computing host provider. Some 3000 managers are still leery of relying on security over networks so remote. But other companies will be keen to get the high-powered iron out of datacenters, even as they continue to rely on high-powered MPE apps.
The power of such a worldwide web of networks extends all the way to my mom's table in her room at the Franciscan Care Center in Sylvania, Ohio. It's a modest and comfortable place that I'm visiting soon, but there's a limit to how much space she's got for scrapbooks. And with three great-grandchildren all under age 3, there's a torrent of pictures to share. We once mailed her paper photos and handsome albums, but now we send it all to a digital picture frame, one plugged into her phone line. Updates of the latest grandbaby pictures arrive in that frame, one that needs as little infrastructure management as the very best cloud computer. Meaning someone else is doing it, and including the admin in the cost.
No, it doesn't mean the picture frame and the network will take those pictures of Noah, Bree and Paige. Or even that it will load them -- that's our job as grandparents. But it will do the rest, so we can share with less effort. My wife Abby and I can spend our energy creating those picture-worthy moments — like you might spend energy improving an application or extending its reach into wider worlds, up in the clouds.