Last month, I spent time with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) telco executives ahead of Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona. The company recently underwent a reorganization that it claims will better enable the development of solutions to support mobile operator 5G deployments globally. HPE also announced at MWC a handful of enhancements to its 5G automation platform. In this column, I would like to provide my thoughts on both.
Divide and conquer
I spent several years of my corporate career at Compaq, staying on after it merged and became Hewlett Packard. In my role as a former product marketing manager, I found that the massive scale of the organization tended to create unintended silos that made launching new products and services a tedious endeavor. Thus, I applaud HPE’s telco team for making the recent decision to separate its telco pre-sales and product development efforts in what I would call a divide and conquer approach. Claus Pedersen leads the worldwide pre-sales efforts and his counterpart Domenico Convertino leads product and service development. All in all, I believe that the new HPE Communications Technology Group is better aligned to maximize its opportunities and help mobile network operators deploy 5G networks than it was before the reorganization.
According to both executives, the team seeks to leverage the reorganization for several purposes:
- to build a catalog of solutions;
- simplify the customer journey;
- drive differentiation through disaggregation; and
- refine HPE’s leadership with edge enablement to supercharge 5G use cases and applications.
Unlike its traditional rivals, Dell Technologies and Lenovo, that lean heavily into a partnership model for solution delivery, the HPE Telco team is developing many of its platforms organically. HPE is partnering in emerging areas such as Open RAN. Still, in developing solutions with a highly experienced team with telco DNA, I believe it serves as a key differentiation. I also like the fact that the team is working closely with its Aruba counterparts to exploit the synergies of Wi-Fi and 5G as connectivity converges, especially within the enterprise and as private cellular networking gains momentum. Proof of concept labs play a critical role, and HPE has significant capabilities given its 5G Lab in Fort Collins, Colorado. I have written about the lab in the past. If interested, you can find that article here.
Key MWC announcements
HPE decided to push two announcements from its signature Discover event in June to MWC Barcelona due to Covid19 concerns. First, HPE 5G Automated Assurance aims to automate the detection, prediction, and remediation of 5G network issues and service shortcomings by integrating machine learning into an open architecture. The platform was designed from the ground up and supports multi-vendor environments—a critical point given the trajectory of disaggregation and the new 5G ecosystem entrants.
Second, enhancing the existing HPE Service Director tool aims to ease network slicing by providing zero-touch orchestration capabilities and complete lifecycle management across multiple domains. If you are not familiar with HPE Service Director, it orchestrates 5G infrastructure and services to optimize operational capabilities across connectivity, compute, application, and network functions. If you want to learn more about HPE Service Director, you can find the details here.
There are two things that I like about this recent announcement. First, the new automation software monitors and orchestrates network functions, infrastructure, slices and services, and integrates with HPE’s existing 5G Core Stack platform. These capabilities should simplify deployment and management. Second, the combination of both enhancements should reduce the complexity resulting from the inherently more virtualized nature of the 5G standard relative to LTE. Operators will likely face managing multiple network slices, numerous virtual machines and containerized network functions across thousands of locations. Network slicing is poised to deliver substantial incremental operator monetization opportunities. If HPE can simplify its management when these new capabilities are available in October of this year, it could be a real game-changer.
I continue to be impressed with the HPE Telco team's focus on 5G automation and its efforts in other areas, such as enabling Open RAN. Its bench strength and acumen are deep, and I consider it the current leader in the telecommunications space among its peers at Dell Technologies and Lenovo. The recent announcements at MWC serve to strengthen HPE’s position, but I expect Dell in particular to challenge it. From my perspective, that should spur further innovation, which is a good thing for the deployment of 5G.