Getty Images/iStockphoto

Can HPE change what it means to use the cloud?

The latest updates to HPE GreenLake demonstrate the tech vendor's commitment to "everything-as-a-service." Will it be enough to transform the cloud computing model?

There is a moment in every business in which the risk of staying the same outweighs the risk of doing something radical to deliver future success.

Four years ago, HPE launched HPE GreenLake with a vision that the cloud experience would become the preferred model for buying and using technology. One year later, HPE doubled down on that vision by announcing its intent to deliver "everything-as-a-service."

Early on, I was impressed by that vision and the commitment evident behind making such a bold announcement. When it comes to purchasing decisions today, people and businesses tend to focus more on experience and outcomes and less on shiny things. For the past decade or so, public cloud providers simplified the IT experience. The market responded, as more and more organizations now want to enjoy that experience everywhere.

According to recent Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) research, 51% of IT decision-makers prefer a consumption-based model in which data center infrastructure is pay-per-use (i.e., available through a variable monthly subscription based on hardware utilization) over a traditional Capex-based model.

Accelerating IT operations is a common benefit that organizations achieve through this pay-per-use model. They have been able to achieve the following:

  • accelerate IT initiatives by moving costs out into future quarters and increasing the amount of infrastructure that can be deployed today (cited by 51%);
  • accelerate IT initiatives by freeing up personnel from infrastructure and systems management to do other tasks (47%); and
  • accelerate the deployment of new infrastructure capabilities (41%).

HPE GreenLake is designed to deliver those benefits by providing cloud-like operations across the entire IT ecosystem -- or from edge to cloud, as HPE calls it. At this year's HPE Discover event, we saw the following HPE GreenLake-related announcements:

  • HPE GreenLake for Data Fabric, a managed service that comes with an analytics-ready data fabric for hybrid environments;
  • HPE GreenLake for HCI (hyperconverged infrastructure), which offers a SaaS-based interface to simplify VM and infrastructure management;
  • HPE GreenLake for Disaster Recovery, which is designed to simplify the recovery experience following disasters or ransomware attacks;
  • HPE GreenLake for Block Storage, which will include HPE's 100% data availability guarantee;
  • HPE GreenLake for Compute Ops Management, which provides a cloud experience to simplify and automate compute lifecycle management;
  • HPE GreenLake for Payments to simplify and reduce the risks involved with pay-per-use payments;
  • HPE GreenLake with FIS Ethos, which -- via HPE's collaboration with FIS Ethos -- provides a real-time customer data platform for engagement analytics; and
  • integration of Red Hat into the HPE GreenLake ecosystem, incorporating Red Hat OpenShift, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform.

HPE GreenLake is not just storage-as-a-service, or even infrastructure-as-a-service. HPE is being true to its word in its strategic commitment to deliver everything-as-a-service -- not just regarding its own technologies, but for its partners' technologies as well.

One question remains: Has HPE done enough to change the definition of a cloud IT consumer? Yes and no.

As much as businesses desire an as-a-service experience for IT on premises, at the edge, and in the public cloud, there are several additional hurdles to overcome:

  1. Data center admins who have been accustomed to deploying and managing systems in traditional ways will face a learning curve. Moving to an as-a-service-based approach and architecting an environment to meet the needs of applications are not easy tasks. This transition typically takes time, but for its users, HPE has innovations in place to help. Using HPE InfoSight AI, HPE Unified DataOps technology offers advanced intelligence to map infrastructure deployments to the specific needs of an application environment.
  2. The sales model must also change, including among the partner community. After spending decades selling speeds and feeds through Capex-based purchasing, transitioning to an as-a-service sales model where revenue is recognized over time requires a considerable mind shift. For this challenge, HPE announced a new partner program at its Partner Growth Summit 2022: HPE Partner Ready Vantage, which is designed to help partners with this transition.
  3. On-premises infrastructure components -- no matter how cloud-like they have been engineered to be -- cannot offer the speed to first deployment that public cloud services can. That slows down adoption, often requires input from multiple teams and lengthens the buying process. This is a challenge any on-premises as-a-service offering must manage, HPE included. While not insurmountable, this last challenge limits how quickly IT vendors, like HPE, can scale their offerings.

Deploying a cloud-like, as-a-service experience on premises and at the edge adds complexities beyond those that come with using large public cloud providers. HPE already has plans in place to address two of the three hurdles highlighted above. While the third hurdle does not have an easy answer, it can likely be overcome with more time in the market.

However, time is a luxury HPE doesn't have. Multiple competitors are also investing in on-premises as-a-service offerings. Can HPE -- with four years of innovation in this area behind it -- attract enough users to change the definition of cloud from "IT services we rent from the major public cloud players" to "an experience model that can be leveraged anywhere"? It all depends on execution. HPE's vision is correct, and it is moving along the right path. In the end, it will come down to the pace.

ESG is a division of TechTarget.

Next Steps

How automating distributed cloud infrastructure changes IT

Dig Deeper on Cloud provider platforms and tools

Data Center