HP Selected to Help Europeans to Trust the Cloud

Involvement in Coco Project Reflects HP’s Focus on a New Style of IT

Last week, I was interested to learn that HP has been selected by the European Commission (EC) to coordinate the Confidential and Compliant (Coco) Cloud project.

Coco Cloud aims to get Europeans sharing their data securely in the cloud. The EC believes the initiative will give people greater confidence in cloud services and prompt widespread adoption, benefitting users and Europe’s digital economy. The EC’s looking to combine strong industry players like HP with academic institutions able to deliver high-quality research and development, legal expertise and end-user testing. It hopes the project will help to overcome regulatory and legal hurdles among EU countries and ensure that sensitive data is carefully controlled and protected.

So why is this so important to HP? Well, over the past couple of years HP’s management, led by CEO Meg Whitman, has been pursuing a goal of delivering “the new style of IT” in the areas of cloud, mobility, big data and security. While I was at Mobile World Congress last month, HP unveiled a key initiative supporting this goal. Its Open Network Feature Virtualisation programme is made up of applications and services designed to virtualize core networks. It’s clear HP is keen to entice network operators with a programme aimed at driving down costs and letting them compete with rivals such as Google and Skype.

I was also interested to see HP stepping up its efforts in consumer hardware with the introduction of so-called “voice tablets” to its Slate range. These efforts run alongside HP’s traditional imaging business, which is capitalising on its membership of the Mopria Alliance and the explosion of digital content. Other core capabilities include security solutions, and HP is embracing cloud features across most of its product range, either directly with Flow CM or as a more subtle infrastructure.

It comes as little surprise to me that HP is embracing the cloud not only at a conceptual level but also in a way that helps sell more of its Moonshot servers and network solutions. From what I saw at HP’s annual analyst event in Boston in March, Ms Whitman and her team are acknowledging the rich history from the Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard era and are trying to reinvigorate the importance of individual employees and company culture within the business.

In our report on Mobile World Congress we noted HP’s expansion thanks to its cloud IP and hardware capabilities (see Event Report: Mobile World Congress 2014). I feel this message was re-emphasized at the Boston event.

HP’s appointment as the coordinator of Coco Cloud project gives it an opportunity to use its expertise and technology to influence the way the EU and national governments address the issues of privacy and security in a mobile cloud-based world.

Security has become a hot topic. It was one of the most prominent topics at CeBIT this year (see CeBIT 2014 Regains Its Status as Major B2B European IT Event). I saw numerous presentations on privacy and about 500 companies exhibiting security products.

It’s pretty telling that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has strong views on security: “This digital world has to be given a legal framework, an underlying order. We’re only at the beginning of that. National laws alone will not suffice.” It’s increasingly clear that this view is not limited to Germany. For example, consumer organisations in France have taken Facebook, Twitter and Google to court in the past week over their use of private data.

The commitment from the EC is clear. It has made privacy a foundation of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the collective name given to the EU’s research activities. In the budget dedicated to cooperation, which makes up 64 percent of the total, IT projects account for the largest proportion, at €9.1 billion. The Coco Cloud initiative is one of the major schemes included in FP7.

Very few companies have such a comprehensive set of skills in IT and telecoms as HP, from intellectual property to project management, in the hardware and solutions space. Furthermore, HP is a true multinational with operations in every single European and EU country; for the Coco Cloud initiative, HP in Italy is taking the lead. It therefore makes sense for the EC to have selected it as the leader and coordinator of the project. The convergence of the worlds of IT and telecoms, thanks to digitisation of the infrastructure and processes, is playing into the company’s hands.