HPE invited me to join them for the HPE Open House at their new headquarters in San Jose. During the two-day event, the HPE leadership team shared their perspective on enterprise challenges and their vision to address the changing demand. CEO Antonio Neri kicked things off with a refreshingly candid discussion followed by members of the HPE leadership team. Without stealing my own thunder, let me just say that I was impressed by the conversations and interactions.
HPE ALIGNMENT WITH ENTERPRISE CHALLENGES
The enterprise is challenged with several core issues: a) integration of a holistic edge-to-cloud strategy, b) modernizing and simplifying their technology portfolio and c) up-leveling the conversation to focus on solving core business problems rather than implementing the latest bright, shiny object.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with Neri and frankly, it was incredibly refreshing to hear his perspective on where HPE goes from here. Of course, there are many challenges he faces while leading an organization with a culture historically heavy in engineering. Neri shared his three priorities as CEO: a) customers and partners, b) innovation and c) culture. Beyond HPE’s core engineering culture, HPE is determined to improve experiences for customers. This is a marked, but welcome shift for HPE.
HPE GREENLAKE A CORE PART OF HPE STRATEGY
HPE Greenlake played a significant role in the conversation throughout the event. There is still quite a bit of confusion to the branding as to what Greenlake really is and isn’t. It seems HPE is still working out the details.
One aspect is clear though. HPE is determined to offer solutions to address customer requirements at the infrastructure layer regardless of situation, architecture, dimension or financial vehicle. Let’s look at a couple of examples. From an architecture perspective, HPE outlined their ability to offer traditional server, storage, network stacks or composable infrastructure that supports both VM-based workloads alongside container-based workloads on the same platform. This is a huge opportunity for enterprises looking to streamline their core infrastructure with a single provider. Integration and management across the portfolio are obviously two key opportunities here beyond the fundamental hardware. Beyond the hardware and software, HPE has created financial vehicles where enterprises can consume HPE technology ‘as a service’ or purchase outright. HPE’s objective is to eventually make their entire portfolio of products available as a service or on a subscription basis.
FOCUS ON THE MANAGEMENT PROBLEM
A key issue for enterprises is how to leverage intelligence and automation into the management across their infrastructure. HPE is bringing AI and intelligence into the mix for their management platforms. At the Open House event, they spent quite a bit of time talking about how they are investing into the management platforms to the tune of $4 billion into Aruba Central alone. Aruba Central becomes a key focus as enterprises evaluate how to integrate more of an edge and IoT strategy into their operations. Beyond that, HPE is already looking at how 5G will play a role in 2020.
LOOKING FOR GUIDANCE AND SIMPLICITY
The reality for enterprises is that the infrastructure space is getting more complicated, not simpler. Enterprises are looking for ways to streamline and simplify what they already while limiting the complexity as much as possible as they improve and modernize their infrastructure.
While the event was only two days, I wish more time was spent outlining how HPE is going to address these issues as they could further differentiate HPE from their competition.
A CIO PERSPECTIVE ON HPE
HPE has always struck me as a heavy engineering company that struggled to find their voice. With this recent event and conversations with Neri, it seems HPE is starting to find their way without giving up the goodness that is the heart and soul of HPE. Neri has his work cut out for him, but I think he is the right leader to take HPE into the future.
HPE’s core strength is their breadth in portfolio. They have solutions that will take enterprises from edge-to-cloud and everything in-between. They are starting to build out their management platforms in earnest which will directly address the growing complexity in the infrastructure spaces.
Looking further afield, HPE has had some false-starts with their cloud strategy. With the acquisition of Cloud Technology Partners, they have gained solid expertise that is already starting to demonstrate they understand the enterprise challenges with regards to cloud.
Beyond the core hardware and management platforms, their vision is solid. The key will be to execute on the vision without losing their engineering mojo. HPE historically has been a speeds-and-feeds type of company. Add in the ability to move up the stack into cloud and applications will add further complexity. Making the change to focus on experiences and outcomes are needed and will take time to permeate throughout the organization. I look forward to seeing where HPE goes from here and how they resonate with enterprises.