Many companies are experiencing an acceleration of digital transformation initiatives. My goal at the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Discover 2021 event was to better understand what HPE is doing to help customers on the digital transformation journey, and what better place to find out than the virtual keynote by Antonio Neri, CEO of HPE. Of course, I also wanted to drill into HPE GreenLake highlights as on-prem XaaS is hot.
The age of insight
In his keynote, HPE CEO Antonio Neri provided some continuity by building on a theme he introduced last year, called “the age of insight," driven and enabled by digital transformation. The idea is simple. For data, the focus has always been on the three V's; volume variety and velocity. Today, it is more than simply capturing data but the speed to extract value. That leads to the notion of a fourth "v" in the age of insight; value.
Neri talked about data as the new currency that powers the digital economy, predicting that data will be an asset on a future balance sheet. Not the first time we have heard the idea, but always worth repeating. This new era will usher in new services and products and generate discoveries that elevate the greater well-being of every human on this planet—something of a leap, to be sure but a very laudable goal. Antonio did provide examples, including affordable mapping of the individual genome, ushering a revolution in medicine, and the use of artificial intelligence to harness the power of the ocean waves for renewable energy production.
Human transformation at GM
Every compelling technology keynote requires customer validation. Preferably not resembling a high school graduation ceremony with many customers, but one engaging, articulate customer. Antonio hit a home run with Mary Barra, Chair of the Board and CEO of General Motors.
General Motors has a vision for an all-electric future and has publicly committed to delivering 30 new global electric vehicles by 2025.
Barra views the future of GM not as a car manufacturer but as a technology company. With connectivity, electrification, and autonomous driving, it is all about the power of the data, with the car acting as a software platform. The car company best equipped to harness the data wins. Tesla understood this first to establish a lead in the electric vehicle (EV) industry.
When quizzed on the foundation of GM's transformation, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Mary toggle to GM employees and building a culture around zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion. An inclusive culture where everyone feels a sense of belonging can speak up and do the best work. Mary also mentioned shifting skill sets to those with more of a software background to align with the changes to the vehicle.
Mary left us with some sound advice on work ethic. There is no substitute for hard work - “work before you play." When you work hard, you can distinguish yourself. View your current job as if you will do it for the rest of your life because then you own it, you're not renting, and you're not just passing through; you're investing in it and looking to make it better. When you're doing your best work in your role, you get noticed. Coming from someone who started her career at GM when she was 18 years old and now leads 150,000 employees worldwide, this is sage advice.
All in with HPE GreenLake
Over the years, my team and I have written several articles as HPE continues to evolve the GreenLake edge to cloud platform. The offering has transitioned to everything-as-a-service for the entire portfolio, starting from flex capacity and pay-per-use.
In his keynote, Antonio Neri announced several new workload services and solutions that go vertical and horizontal, which I will list here:
GreenLake for 5G Core Systems is a pre-integrated software and hardware solution available on a pay-as-you-use basis with GreenLake. The 5G core stack is open and cloud-native, and HPE claims it can be deployed, tested, and in production in less than an hour, compared to weeks today. The pay-as-you-use basis with GreenLake will enable telcos to deploy a 5G core network with reduced risk and little upfront investment. HPE is no stranger to carriers as the company powers many of the leading carriers, and not just infrastructure, but top to bottom solutions.
GreenLake for Electronic Medical Records is a new cloud service with validated configurations, management services for Epic and Cerner applications. If you are going to partner with anyone first, it’s Epic and Cerner.
GreenLake for Splunk cloud services built on HPE Ezmeral software.
The HPE Ezmeral Container Platform works with Splunk to make it simple for customers to collect, analyze, and act upon data generated from technology infrastructure operations, security systems, and business applications with observability. Splunk Enterprise in a Kubernetes infrastructure is available as a fully managed as-a-service solution from GreenLake. We interviewed Splunk CEO Doug Merritt last week at the Six Five Summit related to AI and how enterprises should approach it. I also interviewed HPE CTO and head of software Kumar Sreekanti where I ask hm about HPE’s software strategy and why the company is creating so much software.
GreenLake Lighthouse is a cloud-native infrastructure that enables a new cloud service in just a few clicks in GreenLake Central and runs them simultaneously. GreenLake Lighthouse is built with HPE Ezmeral software to autonomously optimize different cloud services and workloads by composing resources to deliver the best performance, lowest cost, or a balance of both. The first GreenLake Lighthouse for mainstream workloads running on VMs and containers will ship this summer, with other optimized versions for the edge and specialized workloads available later in 2021.
I view Lighthouse as a much more simplified version of GreenLake. I have talked to GreenLake customers and received some feedback from partners and there is still a lot of options and paperwork involved. I view this as natural growing pains, but also that HPE allows a nearly unlimited amount of configuration options. The public cloud doesn’t offer that which is one reason it has scaled so quickly. Lighthouse limits the options like the public cloud, is likely more push-button with less paperwork. I would expect that this is HPE’s scale version of GreenLake. My expectation is that Lighthouse will be the long-term volume driver for HPE.
Silicon On-Demand, developed in partnership with Intel, gives you the ability to activate and pay with just a click to add new capacity at a processor core and persistent memory level. Silicon On-Demand adds new capacity using Intel Optane technology and provides the ability to turn resources on and off based on need. Silicon On-Demand should provide more accurate capacity, metering, and billing for the hardware and software (aligning licensing costs to actual core usage) and speed service deployment. The feature will be available by the end of the year.
IBM pioneered this capability with its Z mainframe line and I always wondered why the X86 world never offered it. Technologically, it’s not as hard as you might imagine and I am glad to see this capability, and applaud HPE being first.
HPE also previewed Project Aurora, a silicon-to-workload and edge-to-cloud security solution, which promises to deliver true cloud-native, zero-trust security with HPE’s silicon root of trust as the foundation. It is critical to provide secure cloud services in a hybrid model that Matt Kimball, with Moor Insights & Strategy, has written an article on the subject and a white paper explaining the product in detail.
GreenLake is not a fad, it’s a trend. According to Antonio Neri, GreenLake grew 41% in HPE's second quarter, with more than 1,200 customers on the platform. The GreenLake cloud platform is now available to 900 partners and integrated into the top five global distributor online marketplaces. I am hopeful HPE will provide “crawl charts” showing every quarter the growth in these data points. I also appreciated the deeper dive on customers using GreenLake like Salomon, Bidtellect, Novartis, Norm Holding, SafeDX, and SNP Poland. HPE needs these stories to show other companies it’s “real” and as in on-prem, XaaS, it’s the one to beat.
HPE has been on a transformational journey to flip the model of selling infrastructure to offering consumption-based “edge to cloud” solutions. When this was announced years ago, many people scoffed at it. I had my doubts given HPE’s historically shaky record in M&A and software. So far, HPE has proven the doubters wrong. But on-prem XaaS is a marathon, not a sprint, and all of HPE’s competitors are all gunning to take it down either by scale (Dell Technologies) or focus (Pure Storage). Oh, and let’s not forget about the cloud-native folks who are going on-prem and hybrid with Anthos, Outposts, and Azure Stack.
It’ll be quite interesting if and when a traditional on-prem company invests some up-front capex to install infrastructure at a colo, add multi-tenant capability, add credit card swiping, and connect colos with fiber to create an AZ for DR and global latency reduction. You essentially have a public cloud.
On-prem and edge infrastructure, when consumed as a service, is where the puck is going, and HPE appears right now to be leading the pack.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.