As cloud environments become more distributed, modernization is required everywhere if businesses want to achieve the additional flexibility and agility that they need. When it comes to modernization on premises, multiple vendors have responded by working to deliver a cloud-like experience on site.
Recently, one of those vendors, HPE, with its HPE GreenLake cloud service, made several announcements. They focused on delivering an evolutionary leap forward in on-premises cloud IT, starting with the architectural design and delivery of the infrastructure. The announcements offer a glimpse into the future of HPE GreenLake and the future of data center infrastructure in general.
The fine print of HPE GreenLake announcements
Here is what HPE announced:
- Expanded HPE GreenLake for Block Storage. Using HPE's in-house storage technology, an extended HPE GreenLake for Block Storage service delivers scale-out, software-defined block storage with the resiliency and performance necessary for mission-critical applications at a midrange price point, according to HPE. Standing by its resiliency claim, HPE is offering a 100% data availability guarantee for HPE GreenLake for Block Storage. Expect this service to become the flagship block storage option for HPE GreenLake moving forward. Check out a demo here.
- HPE GreenLake for File Storage. In partnership with Vast Data, HPE now offers high-capacity, high-performance file storage for high-value workloads tied to AI, machine learning, deep learning, high-performance computing and large data lakes. Check out a demo here.
- HPE Alletra Storage MP. The HPE Alletra Storage MP is a modular, 2U (rack unit), storage-dense server that serves as the underlying infrastructure for both HPE GreenLake for Block Storage and HPE GreenLake for File Storage. HPE Alletra Storage MP is a Lego-style modular building block that can serve those two software-defined storage-based offerings and provide the flexibility to add additional services in the future. Based on its design, expect HPE to upgrade the Alletra Storage MP nondisruptively in the field as new technologies become available.
- HPE GreenLake for Disaster Recovery and HPE GreenLake for Backup and Recovery. These new data protection services for HPE GreenLake will help simplify the protection of the HPE GreenLake ecosystem.
- New procurement model. HPE also introduced a capital purchase model for HPE GreenLake for Block Storage and File Storage. Organizations can get the HPE Alletra Storage MP in a Capex model when they buy a subscription to HPE GreenLake for Block Storage or File Storage. It is a great move: Not every organization is ready to go all-in on a fully managed Opex-based service on day one, but nearly every organization will benefit from using flexible consumption-based buying.
HPE GreenLake changes on-prem discussion from 'cloud-like' to 'cloud services'
Since the advent of cloud services, there has been a growing desire to access cloud-like benefits, such as speedy operations, increased choice of services and greater agility in resources everywhere, including on premises. Until recently, however, most on-premises offerings provided a cloud-like experience for the vendor's existing on-premises portfolios by layering on as-a-service managed environments or consumption-based pricing to the infrastructure.
While not the same as what a public cloud delivers, these offerings still delivered transformational benefits. According to research from TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group, organizations that used on-premises as-a-service products cited the following benefits:
- 51% accelerated IT initiatives by moving costs into future quarters.
- 47% accelerated IT initiatives by freeing up personnel to address other tasks.
With its introduction of HPE Alletra Storage MP and scale-out, software-defined architectures for HPE GreenLake for Block Storage and HPE GreenLake for File Storage, HPE lays a foundation to deliver a true cloud architecture on premises, instead of choosing to simply deliver a cloud-like experience. By standardizing on modular storage server hardware and delivering the technology as software-defined services -- with HPE managing it and delivering the products as cloud services -- the increased efficiencies could translate into meaningful benefits for users.
Specifically, based on what I have seen of the architecture, HPE GreenLake could provide multiple advantages relative to other products that are built on a more traditional three-tier hardware architecture. Here are some examples:
- Overall services costs could be lower, thanks to a standardized infrastructure that reduces the underlying cost of hardware and inventory, training for support, and costs related to services and obtaining spare parts.
- The speed at which environments can scale and expand should be faster, as the standardized hardware could make it easier for HPE to deliver increased capacity to on-site locations.
- Given the modular design of the architecture, HPE could also offer greater choice and flexibility when it comes to future upgrade options.
All these advantages, however, have the word could in them. These benefits are only potential examples of what may be possible with a standardized hardware environment; time will tell if HPE can successfully deliver them. Regardless, this architectural design is a smart move for HPE and one that should translate into benefits for users.
What does this mean for on-premises cloud users?
Businesses want -- or, rather, need -- a cloud experience everywhere. From an engineering standpoint, HPE chose the harder route, but that approach should be more beneficial to its customers over the long run. HPE started with hardware innovation designed for cloud operations and a software-defined storage model for services, and they will build up from there. The engineer in me loves this approach.
To find success, though, HPE needs to translate those architectural design efficiencies into transformational business benefits for user environments. HPE also can't let its thorough, from-the-architecture-up approach slow down the delivery of additional services, either. This design should provide HPE with an advantage, but time will tell if they can seize it.
What does this mean for your organization? You should already be using or investigating on-premises as-a-service products, as the current options already deliver tremendous benefits related to simplicity and speed of operations. HPE's design should increase those benefits. But nearly every IT infrastructure provider offers some on-premises, consumption-based payment plan or an on-premises as-a-service model.
Cloud everywhere is essential. Ask your provider of choice what their product can provide. Press them on what they can deliver in terms of scalability, agility and flexibility for the cost.