Attending the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Discover 2023 event marked my third straight visit to Las Vegas this June. Surviving that many trips to Sin City in less than a month feels like a monumental accomplishment, eclipsed only by my lone half-Ironman nearly a decade ago! HPE Aruba Networking was center stage, and I would like to share what I found compelling.
Additional NaaS offerings
Earlier this year, HPE’s Aruba Atmosphere event made a big splash with its Agile network-as-a-service (NaaS) framework, which I wrote about in May. HPE Discover demonstrated further NaaS momentum with the announcement that HPE will now offer its datacenter switching portfolio as consumption services. These products include the HPE Aruba Networking CX 8000, 9000 and 10000 series. All of these are available as service packs for HPE GreenLake for Aruba networking; these modular offerings also provide channel partners the opportunity to wrap profitable design and delivery services into the mix. The datacenter market is an underpenetrated segment for HPE, and the CX 10000, in particular, is quickly becoming the “tip of the spear” in the company’s quest to conquer this segment.
It’s worth diving deeper into the CX 10000 given that it leverages some unique silicon, the AMD Pensando data processing unit (DPU). Before HPE Discover this year, I met with the Pensando team for a deeper dive into its latest version, called Giglio. (Note that it’s not “gigolo” but “Giglio,” which means “lily” in Italian.) Giglio is positioned as Pensando’s second-and-a-half generation, providing a 30% improvement in performance while lowering power consumption by 20% over its prior generation.
Besides those performance improvements, what I like about Pensando is its software forward compatibility, offering a full stack that supports a host of functionality out of the box. Including software is a key differentiator for Pensando relative to competing DPUs from Marvell and Nvidia, which do not ship with software included. HPE bet on Pensando early, even before AMD closed its acquisition of Pensando in May 2022. From my perspective, this is paying dividends from a differentiation standpoint for HPE’s networking division.
Aruba’s integration within HPE
In a closed-door session with industry analysts at Discover 2023, HPE outlined the details of its plan to integrate the Aruba business unit it acquired in 2015. Aruba was allowed to operate independently until recently, and its past autonomy afforded it the ability to be nimble and react to market and customer demands unencumbered by the larger HPE organizational structure. However, after the departure of Keerti Melkote, its founder and CEO, a few years ago, it was inevitable that Aruba would be integrated with the rest of HPE to streamline sales and marketing operations. It should also simplify HPE’s channel partner sales motion and ease customer deployments.
I also like that HPE is retaining the Aruba brand in the new wordmark: HPE Aruba Networking. A lot of positive equity has been built by Aruba over the years, and it’s wise for HPE to keep that name in circulation. Beyond the branding change, a handful of Aruba executives I have known for several years now have broader remits within the company’s portfolio. That’s a good thing for HPE and should go far to eliminate silos and better coordinate full-stack enterprise solutions.
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I continue to be impressed with HPE’s leadership in NaaS as it delivers purpose-built offerings tailored to different deployment scenarios. With Aruba’s recent integration, the company is also enabling its customers to consume a full stack of compute, storage and networking infrastructure and enjoy the operational expense benefits of HPE GreenLake. The latter is a powerful value proposition that could further propel HPE’s market momentum.