I am convinced that the mountains that are near many Hewlett Packard Enterprise(HPE) facilities inspire the company’s lab and research and development efforts. I visited its lab in Roseville, California, in the summer of 2018, and was impressed by its capabilities. I wrote an article highlighting my insights. If interested, you can find it here.
Last month, I spent time virtually with the HPE Telco team in Fort Collins, Colorado. If you are not familiar with the city, it is a small college town in the Front Range of the Rockies, famous for its love of cycling and craft beer (both New Belgium and Odell call it home). The city is also a hub for high tech, and it is where HPE focuses on enabling the deployment of 5G on a massive scale. In this column, I would like to highlight what I find compelling about HPE's telco and 5G lab efforts.
HPE Telco Shared Lab
The mission of the HPE Telco Shared Lab is to support the introduction of capital expense disruptive, disaggregated hardware, software and virtualization solutions with an emphasis on operator enablement and partnerships. The lab, launched in 2014, is engaged in operator blueprint validation, engineering reference designs, and proof of concepts. The partners' roster is equally impressive, including Google, Nokia, Red Hat, and many others. Key to its value is a remarkable server capability, nearly 1,000 platforms, and partners' ability to access it virtually. The latter has served the lab well, given the pandemic.
Another impressive capability is its research and development focus. Over the past 18 years, the HPE Telco team has focused on developing and refining carrier-grade Linux solutions. The company's lab staff also boasts nearly 150 years of experience, an impressive metric by any measure. A key proof point is the team's contribution to the Linux Foundation's Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK), focused on data plane acceleration. I've spent time with the DPDK leadership in the past, and if interested, you can find my coverage here.
HPE 5G Core Lab
The 5G Core Lab, founded in 2019, aims to validate the HPE 5G core stack in multi-vendor environments, provide a neutral proving ground for functionality and performance testing and validation, as well as a space to demo use cases and proof of concepts before widespread commercialization.
It is no secret that HPE is a leader in mobile edge computing. The tech giant's "Intelligent Edge" vision has positioned it well as edge solutions continue to gain momentum. As public cloud providers Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google and Microsoft Azure push into the telco space, HPE plays a crucial role in facilitating telco cloud and edge deployments to deliver massive scale and improve performance. It is also worth noting that HPE is leaning into its 5G Core Lab effort to drive momentum for network functions virtualization (NFV) as well as its orchestration, core stack and ODIM (Open Distributed Infrastructure Management) initiatives launched earlier this year (see my column here, for more info).
Open source and virtualization are making a dramatic impact on the deployment of 5G. It delivers agility and an alternate path to traditional single-purpose cellular networking infrastructure provided in the past by companies such as Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, and Samsung. HPE is going up against its traditional competitors in telco, including Dell EMC and Lenovo. From my perspective, it is in the telco pole position today. That could change in the future, but I believe HPE’s current leadership can be attributed largely to its shared telco and 5G labs.