HPE's latest products weave hyper-converged and composable technologies together to allow IT pros to deliver, automate and manage apps and data in hybrid cloud environments through HPE GreenLake.
The company extended its composable technology to work with users' existing ProLiant DL 380/360/560 Gen 10 rack servers to deliver automated deployment and management for any workload. In concert with this, HPE also improved its Composable Cloud offering that also allows the existing Proliant systems to deploy and scale workloads across composable rack environments, as well as support a number of competitor's clouds, including those from AWS, Microsoft and Google.
On the hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) front, HPE extended its SimpliVity platform to work with converged architectures. The company is integrating its InfoSight AI operations into SimpliVity to simplify the management of virtual machines, while also freeing up IT pros to focus on higher-level projects. The combined offering provides a more detailed look into systems, performance and capacity utilization.
HPE GreenLake flexible capacity services are a critical piece of delivering the new products as a service. The idea is to lift the burden off users of having to integrate all of the piece parts of their data center infrastructure themselves, with the goal of saving time and money.
"We have lots of independent offerings but now we are trying to bring them together," said Lauren Whitehouse, HPE's director of software-defined and cloud group marketing. "If you think about the public cloud experience along with a services catalog and managing everything consistently across environments, that is the future. We think this is the kind of experience people want," she said.
HPE GreenLake represents a $2.5 billion business for HPE with "hundreds of customers with a 99% retention rate," according to Whitehouse. The product figures to be increasingly at the heart of the company's pay-as-you-go services model.
The announcements mark an important shift on the part of HPE to focus more intensely on services. Some analysts agree that a stronger focus on services is a smart move for the company, although one that follows in the footsteps of many of its competitors.
HPE bowed out of the public cloud market in 2015, ceding to AWS and Microsoft. But with the latest offerings supporting the public clouds of their archrivals, particularly those focused on systems management, it may have a chance to better compete in the hybrid cloud market.
Dana GardnerPrincipal analyst, Interarbor Solutions LLC
"They are expanding GreenLake to be part and parcel of the hybrid cloud," said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions LLC in Gilford, N.H. "They are becoming the middle man among the various cloud providers. This could be an interesting play financially because it makes it simpler for people to acquire, pay for and even predict their costs down the line."
With the majority of corporate users at a crossroads where a complex confluence of private, public and hybrid clouds are merging, users have to decide what capabilities they most need from each of those clouds. Then, they must choose the software that best manages their applications and data across those environments.
"They [HPE] are trying to offer a path to hybrid cloud that lets people set it up, then optimize, automate and manage it," Gardner said. "It's more of a lifecycle approach to hybrid cloud than it is a focus on the underlying technology."
HPE may see hybrid cloud pushback
The new products, the services-oriented approach and accompanying messaging lends clarity to HPE's hybrid cloud strategy that had been lacking previously, according to Tim Crawford, an IT consultant and CIO advisor at AVOA.
"HPE has struggled to have a clear message about what they meant by hybrid cloud," Crawford said. "They've always been very infrastructure-focused and still are to some degree. But these announcements tell a more cohesive story about how users can leverage both the infrastructure and applications, such as OneView or OneSphere, that sit on top of the management layers."
The quick pivot to services, however, has Crawford a bit concerned because HPE shops are used to the company leading with technology.
"They're putting GreenLake more upfront and talking up their consulting business," Crawford said. "They are still an infrastructure company, so it's a bit concerning they would lead with consulting. Some users could benefit from [the consulting services] but quickly shifting the focus of their business might be confusing for users."
Another potential stumbling block HPE faces is users aren't ready to deploy a combination of composable and HCI technologies, as many don't possess the technical chops to pull it off. They are more interested in achieving the overall experience these technologies could offer and not so much on piecing together the individual technical components. Instead of taking an overall experience to technology, HPE is working from the technology end up to the overall experience, Crawford said.
"Users generally aren't ready for this and that's a problem," Crawford said. "[Users] have been focused on a technology fail rather than an experience outcome," Crawford said. "But now they prefer having the experience outcome, but HPE has not caught on yet. I see as this as the next stage HPE is moving to," he said.
Whitehouse, however, believes the pay-as-you-go service model will succeed because of the degree of AI-based automation incorporated into the offerings along with the extension of HPE composable technology, which may result in lower-cost services to users and allow HPE to interact with its users in a new way.
"Composability means we can deliver everything software-defined, which speeds software-driven automation. We are doing everything based on APIs," Whitehouse said. "If you think about the bigger picture, this approach, along with GreenLake, will bust the silos and allow our technology to work together and to work with multiple clouds and other technologies from our partners," she said.
The company also rolled out improvements to the HPE SimpliVity 325 intended for remote offices, a 1U enclosure with all-flash storage and an enhanced version of SimpliVity 380 designed for long-term storage to aggregate copies from across multi-site SimpliVity instances.