It's time to admit that IBM won at being No. 1
Freeware emulator rates zippy in early test

HP Cloud adds SLA as prices drop on Amazon's, Google's cloud services

HP customers who have been patient with the vendor's ramp-up of cloud services are being rewarded one last time this month. The HP Cloud service is moving from a beta period that started in May to a full Service Level Agreement (SLA) version, starting on January 1.

Host ItTerry Floyd of the MANMAN services company The Support Group said he received a notice over the weekend that HP is "particularly grateful for your business and feedback as we build HP Cloud Services' portfolio and service offerings. In appreciation of your engagement through the Beta period, we continue to offer the service at a 50% discount off the list price through December 31, 2012. The full list prices shall apply starting January 1, 2013."

Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Floyd said, might be a logical place to host an instance of the HP 3000 emulator, or experiment with the forthcoming freeware version. (We're still listening for news of when that freeware will be an available download.) On the other hand, a cloud instance could be a useful place for a test environment of a new platform for migrating customers. Migration partners such as MB Foster see a future where it will be the rare small- to medium-sized business that hosts its own hardware.

But even while HP muscles up to a 99.95 percent uptime SLA, its competition is racing to a lower bottom line. These aren't small competitors, either: Amazon and Google have been in the cloud longer than HP. Amazon is finishing up its sixth year offering virtual infrastructure.

Using the HP Cloud with that SLA will still keep you offline no more than 30 minutes per month. A Medium (4GB RAM, 2 vCPUs, 120GB disk) install costs $116.80/month starting in January, after the discount ends; a Large (8GB RAM, 4 vCPUs, 240GB disk) costs $233.60/month for a Linux installation. Stromasys HPA/3000 runs under Linux. Windows installs cost about 50 percent more. HP-UX isn't supported in the HP Cloud.

Google's cloud IaaS, Google Compute Engine, already costs about 2 cents less with hour compared to HP's rates. Google adjusted its prices downward by 5 percent last month; it will also offer a cloud service with no SLA for 30 percent less.

Amazon cut its AWS cloud pricing for the 21st time as of last month, keeping just below Google's prices with a $0.13/hour rate. AWS is the leader in the cloud field in both customers as well as longevity of its solution, which launched in 2006.