HP. Workday. Amazon. Open Source. | Marketing Momentum Gone Wrong

Hewlett-Packard made a big fuss about its public cloud service at last week’s HP Discover event in Las Vegas: Bill Veght, the company’s software chief, boasted that HR SaaS provider Workday abandoned Amazon Web Services (AWS) in favor of HP Public Cloud. The revelation drew a lot of positive attention to Hewlett-Packard’s OpenStack-based PaaS offering, but it soon proved to be all sizzle and no steak.

A few days after the conference, a spokesperson for Workday told SiliconAngle Editor-in-Chief John Furrier that the company remains a “happy AWS customer,” and added that the firm has no intention of moving off the platform. An HP representative confirmed this in a follow-up statement:

“During our HP Discover event, HP was very pleased to announce Workday as a customer for HP’s public cloud. However, we misstated the impact of that announcement on Workday’s relationship with Amazon Web Services. We apologize for the mistake.”

The way Furrier sees it, this mishap is the result of marketing momentum gone wrong. He extracted the signal from the noise in a recent OpEd piece on our Forbes channel.

Workday uses AWS for two things: test and dev, and a Big Data service that supplements its core HR and finance apps, which are in turn hosted by select colocation providers. Furrier noted that Workday did sign a large SaaS contract with HP, but it didn’t make a minimum commitment.

If Workday’s engineers use AWS and its core apps run in co-location centers, why does the firm need HP? Furrier speculates that the two companies signed a reciprocal deal (better known as a “Barney deal”) in a “tech version of you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” Workday’s leading edge HR platform was a natural choice for Hewlett-Packard, but management “wanted a little return love from Workday” in the form of a PR boost.

Furrier concludes by pointing out that the update brings a sharper focus to the cutthroat race he dubbed the Cloud Wars. HP is going after Amazon with OpenStack, as cloud EVP Saar Gillai highlighted in a recent interview on theCUBE, while traditional vendors are either buying their way into this market or coming out with homegrown solutions.