When I see a hardware vendor offering help in transitioning to a new operating model, I can’t help but think of a piano company trying to sell an upright piano as a complement to a radio. As an industry shifts, it’s difficult for an incumbent to transform.
At both Dell EMC Word and HPE Discover, the major themes revolved around digital transformation and hybrid IT. I’ve found the messaging odd. Incumbent hardware vendors have the ear of the CIO. Both HPE and Dell EMC are well positioned to tell the stories of how their products and services help provide the foundation of hybrid IT. In an effort to better understand HPE’s story, I attended HPE Discover and queried HPE on their hybrid IT offerings. Here’s a look at their updated strategic vision.
Hardware at the core
In an earlier post, I questioned the vision of the new HPE. I didn’t understand the value the new organization offered to enterprises without the large services, software, and end-user computing. During the recent HPE Blogger Talks within HPE Discover, the HPE product teams made the strategic vision of the organization a little bit more clear.
At HPE Discover, HPE focused on making hybrid IT easier via a high value consulting arm rebranded Pointnext. Their composable infrastructure concept powers their data center and edge offerings—both of which remain core to HPE’s product focus.
Hardware is a core capability of HPE. Research products such as The Machine show their leadership in the space. The Synergy enclosure platform, alongside the technologies acquired via the purchases of SimpliVity and Nimble, show how HPE is continuing to strengthen the foundation of their hardware offering. In short, HPE has hardware covered, but it still needed to explain its services and software offerings.
HPE has rebranded HP Technical Services (HP TS) to Pointnext. Pointnext is the same services organization HPE offered before the acquisition of EDS, and it focuses on project-oriented engagements.
HPE Pointnext has had a good deal of experience with private cloud and public cloud integration. Before the HP Inc and HPE split, I spoke with the team responsible for delivering the Helion Cloud solution. Much of the work in delivering the OpenStack-based Helion Cloud relied on customized work from project to project. HPE’s position remains similar in that much of the work involved in hybrid cloud relies on custom work from customer to customer.
Customers looking to integrate public cloud services with public cloud platforms will need white glove professional services until standards and management solutions mature. HPE believes Pointnext is positioned as well as DXC and Accenture to provide these tailored services.
Software is one of the most difficult transitions for hardware vendors to make in revamping their products to support hybrid IT. Before the 2017 HPE Discovery event, much of HPE’s hybrid IT strategy focused on their composable infrastructure marketing term. Composable is another term for software-defined, and HPE’s Synergy Chassis is the foundation of HPE’s composable infrastructure technology. HPE retrofitted OpenView to manage Synergy and future composable infrastructure. While Synergy fills a need for scalable private cloud hardware, HPE still had a gap to address in cloud management.
HPE plans to fill the cloud management gap with project NewStack. Similar to The Machine research project, NewStack isn’t a single project or simply a vision for the future. NewStack takes HPE’s learnings from Synergy and Helion to offer a single view into hybrid IT infrastructure. However, HPE didn’t provide a roadmap for the release of NewStack-based products.
HPE wants the shed the image of an organization that sells boxes for that of an organization that sells solutions. HPE sees hybrid IT as a full stack solution with hardware as the foundation of the on-premises vision. Synergy and OpenView enable software-defined management of the on-premises assets, while Project NewStack provides the integration point for the HPE-powered data center and public cloud.
Those critical of HPE’s strategy call out that HPE is primarily a hardware vendor. HPE’s organization is built to sell hardware. However, HPE is out to prove that hardware manufactures best understand how hybrid IT comes together.