IT buyers respond to HPE GreenLake cloud pitch

Tech buyers are interested in the breadth and depth of services sold through the HPE GreenLake service, but want proof of cost savings and data control.

LAS VEGAS -- Enterprise IT administrators are attracted to the SaaS services offered by HPE's GreenLake cloud portfolio, as many admins want cloud capabilities without surrendering control of their data to cloud hyperscalers.

Those same admins also feel the myriad of new services and capabilities swirling in GreenLake still need to demonstrate enterprise utility before the C-suite is willing to cut HPE a check, according to IT pros interviewed by TechTarget during HPE Discover 2022 this week.

HPE doubled down on its GreenLake hybrid cloud strategy this week, further investing in the platform with eight new cloud services, usability improvements, security enhancements and developer tools.

Michael Davis, an endpoint manager for the Papé Group, said his employer could certainly take advantage of the GreenLake portfolio and edge technologies hyped up by HPE.

The Papé Group, headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, sells and services heavy industrial equipment across the West Coast of the U.S., often to areas many tech vendors would see as the edge for data accessibility.

Despite the promises by HPE, Davis wants further clarity on GreenLake's capabilities before undergoing a potentially expensive move to SaaS applications.

"Does it really fix an issue we have, [or] are we just implementing it because it looks cool?" he said.

Walls into dust

HPE GreenLake breaks down the walled gardens of cloud applications and multi-cloud data silos by bringing SaaS applications into private data centers, according to Vishal Lall, senior vice president and general manager at HPE GreenLake.

"Customers don't want walled gardens; they want open systems that can interoperate with outer clouds," he said during a press pre-briefing call prior to the Discover conference.

HPE's claim echoed similar pitches by competing services such as Dell Technologies' Apex and Project Alpine.

The elimination of walled gardens was a theme echoed by Antonio Neri, president and CEO of HPE, during his keynote address at the conference.

He stressed GreenLake's services would include the ability for IT admins to maintain control of their data through accessible APIs, extensive documentation and user support groups. These tools would also make it easier to port services and applications to the GreenLake service.

Enterprise industries with multigenerational data legacies and plenty of closely guarded intellectual property, especially existing HPE customers, could be sold on a more private version of cloud technology, according to customers like Zackary Tillman, IT security analyst at American Packaging Corporation (APC).

APC is considering a GreenLake purchase to modernize the company's infrastructure and eliminate data silos, Tillman said. APC is a 120-year-old company based in Columbus, Wisconsin, with plenty of product IP for containers and other packaging products it would like to keep fully under its control, Tillman said.

GreenLake's private cloud capability appeals to APC's leaders more than cloud hyperscalers, Tillman said. APC also makes use of HPE hardware within its data center, Tillman noted, which brings familiarity to the buying experience as well.

"The cloud is a terrifying new place for us and it's something we want to build out," he said. "For our bosses and [their] bosses' boss, [GreenLake] bridges the gap."

Muddied pond

HPE GreenLake's push to become a SaaS platform has similarly divided opinions among analysts.

Some say HPE's big bet on GreenLake makes sense to capture underserved customers who may want to use cloud-native tools without the loss of data control. Others, however, feel HPE's message has lacked both clarity and general purpose.

HPE GreenLake promises more than 70 services but could face difficulty in differentiating features or capabilities, said Naveen Chhabra, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. HPE GreenLake's catalog overlaps many products in competitors' SaaS portfolios, such as Dell Technologies' Apex or NetApp's Keystone

It feels like this is a mad rush in increasing the services count without increasing the clarity in what a particular service belongs to.
Naveen ChhabraSenior analyst, Forrester Research

"It feels like this is a mad rush in increasing the services count without increasing the clarity in what a particular service belongs to," Chhabra said.

HPE's ambitions for GreenLake adoption could be stymied by the slow adoption of new services by enterprises still operating primarily with on-premises data centers, said Scott Sinclair, practice director at Enterprise Strategy Group, an analyst firm in Newton, Mass.

"HPE GreenLake is an impressive option for on-premises as-a-service IT, and HPE arguably has a head start in this space given the breadth of their overall solution," he said. "The nature of on-premises infrastructure adoption makes it slower to modernize than simply adopting off-premises public cloud services."

Even with multiplicity of competing products, HPE still offered some advantages over its competitors with its legacy in selling subscription services, said Jeff Vogel, senior director analyst at Gartner.

Vendors have spun up SaaS products within the past several years, but HPE's history with subscriptions, primarily hardware within the data center, and the honing of GreenLake's target audience have put the company in leading position, Vogel said.

"IT is ready for this [kind of service]," he said. "[Admins have] been champing at the bit for vendors to get to this point."

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living in the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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