HPE edge computing strategy reroutes data, apps around the cloud

HPE's edge computing strategy hinges on converged infrastructure systems to help enterprises manage data outside their data centers and the cloud, and help the company regain market traction.

LAS VEGAS -- Hewlett Packard Enterprises' edge computing strategy plans follow in the footsteps of archrivals IBM and Dell Technologies, although it downplays the reliance on the cloud in some cases.

At the heart of HPE's edge computing strategy is its Edgeline converged infrastructure systems, to run unmodified versions of popular applications out on the edge where the vast amount of existing and new data resides. This reduces the need to send workloads back to the core data center via the cloud, and improves data security and operational efficiency, according to company executives.

"If you want to respond quicker, but you are dealing with tons of data, sending it back to the cloud is not only difficult but sometimes impossible," said Tom Bradicich, HPE's vice president and general manager of IoT and converged edge systems. Data from autonomous vehicles and video analytics is one example, he said.

Full-blown, certified versions of popular applications, such as Microsoft's SQL Server, flagship products from VMware, Citrix and SAP, will give HPE's edge products a computing life separate from the core data center, Bradicich and other HPE executives at the annual HPE Discover conference here this week. Each HPE Converged Edge system will possess enough processing speed and performance for these apps, with 64 Intel Xeon cores and an optional 48 terabytes of storage that can be plugged directly into the server.

"If you are on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean or some other ruggedized environment with no cloud connection, users won't have to hand carry back that data to the central data center," Bradicich said.

These full-blown applications on the edge are the same versions that run back in the core data center, so IT shops can more easily upgrade, debug and maintain them on the same schedule, and administer them all with the same management software.

In March 2018 market researcher Gartner Inc. predicted that 75% of all enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside of the centralized data centers and the cloud by 2022, a significant increase from slightly less than 10% expected to be generated this year.

HPE edge computing strategy still a work in progress

Some analysts here said HPE still tries to reinvent itself in the wake of major splits. In October 2014 HPE was created to focus on enterprise IT systems, and HP Inc. spun off to sell desktop and mobile PCs and printers. And HPE also has sold off much of its software to other companies, such as Micro Focus and Computer Sciences Corp.

Dana Gardner, Interarbor SolutionsDana Gardner

"Some of those deals [to sell off its applications and services] were not well-thought-out," one analyst said. "It will have to reinvent itself through more investment in developing new software, especially AI and machine learning, before it can establish a new identity."

Other analysts are more optimistic about the success of HPE's edge computing strategy, but agree the company faces a long road back.

"[HPE] is still reaching for that brass ring on the merry-go-round," said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions LLC in Gilford, N.H. "They are looking for something with fatter margins to impress Wall Street, but they haven't convinced the market yet. But this initiative with the intelligent edge could be their savior."

[HPE] is still reaching for that brass ring on the merry-go-round ... they haven't convinced the market yet, [but] this initiative with the intelligent edge could be their savior.
Dana Gardnerprincipal analyst, Interarbor Solutions LLC

Both Gardner and Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy, agree that HPE could improve its fortunes in the short term if it more aggressively pushes out software products it has retained, namely InfoSight from Nimble Storage and Aruba's line of mobile networking products.

"[It] needs to get InfoSight out there as quickly as possible," Moorhead said. [InfoSight] will stimulate the idea of the autonomous data center." Meanwhile, double-digit quarterly growth in HPE's Aruba business shows that users are still building their mobile capabilities, he said. "This is exactly what Aruba can help them do -- they need to push that harder."

HPE's edge computing strategy won't come cheap, and the company is putting its money where its mouth is. HPE will invest some $4 billion over the next four years to accelerate the development of its intelligent edge technologies, said Antonio Neri, HPE's CEO, in a keynote presentation. He wouldn't specify exactly how the company will invest that money, but that in general it will help corporate users turn their data, whether it resides at the edge or cloud, into intelligence to better drive interactions among people and things.

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