Diving into HPE’s Powerful Partnership with AWS with HPE’s Rob Miller – The Six Five On The Road

By Patrick Moorhead - December 1, 2023

On this episode of The Six Five – On The Road, hosts Daniel Newman and Patrick Moorhead welcome Rob Miller, GreenLake Cloud Services Sales for HPE, for a conversation on HPE’s robust partnership with AWS and HPE’s hybrid by design strategy.

Their discussion covers:

  • An introduction of Rob and his role at HPE
  • HPE’s powerful partnership with AWS
  • The depth of HPE’s GreenLake hybrid cloud offerings
  • HPE’s hybrid by design strategy

Watch the video here:

Or Listen to the full audio here:

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Patrick Moorhead: The Six Five is on the road at AWS re:Invent 2023 here in Las Vegas. We have heard so much about compute, server lists, gosh, generative AI.

Daniel Newman: AI?

Patrick Moorhead: Can you believe it? And AI. I mean, it’s been crazy, but one of the resounding themes here, and I think you actually characterized it really well in one of our videos when you said, “This really is the B2B event.” It’s becoming that because it’s not just about AWS. It’s about AWS, but it’s about all its partners to make it successful. And as we’ve seen over the last 14 years, the cloud, it’s really a growing up of the cloud, where I think all of these customers, AWS and on the other side, everybody realized they have to work together.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. The first thing is, I just love that you identified there were three or four subjects here that were not AI.

Patrick Moorhead: Exactly.

Daniel Newman: Because you can’t really do it without compute, network, storage. You need all these things.

Patrick Moorhead: Exactly.

Daniel Newman: So first of all, well done on that. Yeah, and I think what I’ve been trying to say is, look, you wander around Las Vegas right now and the sprawl of the event. What you notice is this massive scale, but it isn’t just about AWS. It’s this really exciting community of partners that are building for the enterprise for the future. And it’s not just, by the way, cloud anymore. It really chips to SAS, as some may say, because this event’s become about silicon. It’s become about infrastructure. It’s been about platform developers, applications. This is where businesses come together to build the enterprise of the future.

Patrick Moorhead: That’s right. And one of those businesses to put this all together is HPE. First to coin Edge to cloud. First to really lean in, all in, as a service on prem. First talking about the Edge and people like, “Eh, what about that?” Well, the Edge is huge and a huge payoff. And with that, I’d like to introduce Rob from HPE. How are you?

Rob Miller: Oh, good, thanks. Thanks for the invite. I appreciate sitting with you today.

Patrick Moorhead: You got it.

Daniel Newman: Hey Rob, good to see you. I actually spent… Last weekend, I was here in Las Vegas again for the F1 race. I got to spend some time with your boss. I got a great picture and I got a hailing glow with Antonio. HPE had a great presence here, by the way.

Rob Miller: Yeah. F1 is one of those really cool leading edge things that we are a part of as a provider. And it’s the high-end to high-end stuff, right? And I’m a car guy, so we have a Patronus sitting in the EBC in Houston.

Patrick Moorhead: Seen it, saw it.

Rob Miller: Oh yeah. So it keeps my juices flowing, definitely.

Daniel Newman: We’ll have to do that offline because this isn’t a car show and I can accidentally fall down there, but-

Rob Miller: We’re good.

Daniel Newman: … I like that too. So give us a little bit of the background, Rob. Tell us a little bit about the work you’re doing with HPE.

Rob Miller: So I lead our strategic sales for GreenLake, our cloud service in North America. I’ve been with HPE about a dozen years. Came out of the sales organization, have been doing as a service for a while, and had the opportunity to sort of lead a team to help engage the largest customers and partners around how we answer unique customer needs and how we fill gaps and things like that. And it’s led me here. This is my first time at Reinvent. It’s been a great exciting show. And I’m here because my customers have asked me to come here. So we’ve had really interesting joint meetings with Amazon. We’ve had joint meetings with customers. It’s been a very cool event. And I’m in Dallas, as you can tell by my accent.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, that’s great. Dan and I are in Austin, so don’t hold that against us. But it’s different. I love Dallas too.

Daniel Newman: We’re all Texans.

Patrick Moorhead: We’re all Texans.

Rob Miller: We’re all transplants. But we’re all Texans.

Patrick Moorhead: There we go. Exactly.

Daniel Newman: Is anybody really from Texas?

Patrick Moorhead: Well, my kids. That’s about it. Well, at least one of them. So anyways, it’s great to see Rob. And HPE and other vendors… Some people used to characterize them as all on prem, right? But now we’re seeing HPE software in the public clouds. We’re seeing a lot of interaction between HPE and the public clouds. And you bring the cloud to your customers, on prem and on the Edge as well. So what are you doing here specifically at Reinvent? What is your mission here?

Rob Miller: So my customers, I deal with the largest customers in North America, public sector, private sector, different sectors in the private sector. And there’s this concept of the turn of the oar, the idea that I have to choose between this or that. It’s a cloud or it’s on prem. It’s older, it’s new. And customers are saying, “Create a fabric for us that allows us to go,” so my IT customers say, “Create a fabric that lets me impact my end customers, which allow us to be relevant to our business.” So what this cloud has fostered is this idea of service fabrics and continuity and not stove pipes. And do we have to get dragged there clicking and screaming? The whole industry did, right? But that’s what disruption does. So the questions that I’m here to answer are how we collaborate and how we share a continuity for our customers that makes them more successful. And Amazon has welcomed us with open arms.

Patrick Moorhead: Gosh, did he use the word fabric? I’m so excited. I mean, literally, I got on talking about the hybrid multi-cloud and the fabrics that need to be in place because, right now, your customers and others are setting up, just like we used to have mainframe mini-computer and x86. We have CSP-1, CSP-2, CSP-3, and then everything that’s been done for the previous 50 years on prem and on the edge. And I love that you said this is about and, not or. And for most technologies, maybe except for the mini-computer, it’s been just that. We still have monolithic apps, we have virtualized apps, we have containerized apps, we have apps of every flavor still out there. So anyways, I’m pretty excited you used the word fabric.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I think the underlying technological challenge that most companies are facing, Rob, is about all the data being accessible to the compute and then ultimately to the application. I mean, that really is the big problem we’re trying to solve. And it’s like, “Oh, that’s easy,” but it’s not easy.

Patrick Moorhead: It’s so hard.

Daniel Newman: I mean, it’s really hard. The technical debt is substantial. And you kind of alluded to this when you were talking about it’s not an or. I talk about this a lot. It’s an and. And the thing is is enterprises are building for the and. There will be lots of workloads on prem, and there will be a lot of workloads on prem for a long time. There will be a lot of data created on prem and at the edge, and it will not all be in the public cloud and it will not make sense to run in the public cloud. But you have gone down the path, and I think even recently, the partnerships between you and AWS have gotten closer.

Rob Miller: Correct.

Daniel Newman: So talk a little bit about how that partnership is evolving with HPE and AWS because clearly that’s why you’re here.

Rob Miller: Yeah. So you think about it. People have used AWS because they have phenomenally good service tools that they’ve built and they’ve democratized a lot of the serverless sort of technologies. So what happens though is the sort of old style of IT runs into that and says, “Hey, security-wise, I don’t like them to lease my prem. I don’t have control of it.” So what they’ve done in opening up Enterprise Kubernetes Service, EKS Anywhere, is allow us to participate and say, “We provide a fabric that works with your fabric that allows people to use the service excellence you build and the sort of leading hardware management piece we build.” And it’s a net accretive for the customers. And if you think about why we bought OpsRamp, right, it’s a way to gel all this together into a service fabric, and customers then stop thinking about cloud versus on-prem versus old versus… Then they start thinking about how we build delivery and how we consume and deliver value to our customers. And then we provide tools that are… And everybody wins in that deal, mostly our customers. And then for customers who work with more than one cloud provider, we provide a unifying fabric.

So you think about the data plane and the hybrid control plane. So GreenLake is about investing in those, whether it’s in our hybrid operations console or our platform or a data fabric layer, an Ezmeral data fabric. We create these environments where they bridge across these gaps. And then you look at, can we provide a cloud experience on older aging hardware? Absolutely. Can we bridge the gap between old and new? Can we run monolithic gaps? Can we give you that level of manage to support sustainability? Absolutely. And we do that because we said, “This is a piece of the market that nobody’s addressing.” And GreenLake has been driving in that direction for the 10 years I’ve been working on the project. So it’s a very exciting time to be here, and that we’ve come so far in our relationship with Amazon talks a lot about the maturity of the model and the maturity of the two corporations. So it’s a very good time to be in the cloud business.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. So HPE, hybrid cloud fabric, you’ve got observability, AI, data management, right? And I’m curious, we’ve talked a little bit ambiguously about what you offer customers. Do you have any customer stories or industry use case examples that we can put a fine point on something?

Rob Miller: Yeah, we can. So the customers, the sort of big customers that come to us with the problem that says we have a gap between people who develop in our organization are very forward leaning, but they’re very disconnected from our IT estate. So they say, “Okay, so how do we solve that problem?”

Patrick Moorhead: Are these business leaders you’re talking about?

Rob Miller: These are business leaders. Correct.

Patrick Moorhead: Okay.

Rob Miller: So the sort of people who consume things, they lean very far into development of new capabilities. And the people who do new capabilities, serverless sort of container-based things are very abstracted from infrastructure. They really don’t know or don’t care where it runs. It’s just something that registers to them. I have this conversation often. We call it pets versus cows, right? A lot of the infrastructure people, these are their pets, right? They love them. It’s cattle to most people. And so we bridge that gap. So how do we bridge it? So we have this private cloud enterprise platform that we deliver that allows us to support single purpose bare metal servers, virtualized or cloud native. And it allows us to run different cloud natives. So what we do is we create an environment where it’s all abstracted. So in the IT organization, and there’s a very large banking thing, the IT organization leans into and says, “Okay, we’re now operating at your pace of development and we understand each other.”

And it’s been an interesting sort of pull those two sides together. And then they begin to have conversations about, what do you really want and how are we relevant? Because what I always say is people that… My dad told me this years ago. There’s two kind of people. There are producers and there are process people. And the people who understand how to abandon process and be on the producer side are relevant to the business and they’re invested in it. The cloud’s all about relevance and relevance to people who talk to customers. We all love IT, right? For most people, it’s like the light switch. You turn it on, the light’s going. You turn it off. You don’t care about all the cool things that happen behind there. You’re just a user. As hard as that is for us to accept, because we live and breathe it every day, it’s the reality. And we’ve brought those two worlds together in a really unique way because we bridge a gap between the very abstract cloud and the physical lay my hands on our device. It’s been a very powerful customer in the Fortune 20, Fortune 100 space. Very powerful set of examples.

Daniel Newman: So I want to make a little pivot here. I want to talk about something called hybrid by design. Pat and I are hearing this more and more. If you’re following all of our videos, you’ll probably hear it’s coming out. I know I’m hearing it from HPE. Kind of want to understand this strategy a little bit more deeply from you guys and how you’re approaching this. What did someone say to us, Pat, the other day? Hybrid by accident or-

Patrick Moorhead: Oh. Hybrid by accident.

Daniel Newman: You know, like cloud by accident. How is this kind of evolving? Because I feel like everybody gets it now. Do you still… And again, maybe this is us in our little analyst turret and it’s not. But are people still coming to you? Really? Do we do hybrid? I mean, how is this evolving and how much more do you think it’s going to take before people really start to get on board and get moving?

Rob Miller: I think we’re at the very beginning of the hybrid by design story.

Patrick Moorhead: Really?

Rob Miller: So here’s what I find interesting. There’s this concept of you can’t negotiate with gravity.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, maybe can we start off, when you say hybrid, what does HPE mean? Just to get on this page.

Rob Miller: Great question because I’m going to get there.

Patrick Moorhead: Okay.

Rob Miller: So you think about us. We started out as an open standards based computing company all those years ago. So our x86 business is building this concept that you build a democratized open standards based processor and you open up the world to a set of standards, and now you open up the software world. Okay. So we’ve been hybrid before hybrid was a thing. Right? We built platforms that allow people to develop to a standard. So we’ve opened up an entire thought leadership community to use a set of tools that weren’t stovepipe to any one manufacturer. That’s who we are. So when we see the cloud, we think about, okay, what we really want to build is some open platform that everyone can plan. Because I think our leadership recognized that Microsoft and Google and AWS all had stern followings, very dedicated followers, but they all offer slightly different things.

We said that, if we are in the middle and we provide a way that everyone can operate with those three or four or five clouds, it makes a significant piece of market benefit for us. And by the way, it takes advantage of all the open platform stuff we’ve done for years. Even though open platform seems kind of hokey, the cloud’s a giant open platform anyway. So it actually is in our DNA, and I think we probably coined hyper by design, but I think gravity says to people, “Wait a minute, we’re going to have to go some place where we can cooperate.” And so, we created a hybrid playing field, and the market evolved to that. But I think we’re very much in the beginning. There are some people who said, “We’re surprised to see HPE here.” Hey, look around the floor. Guess who’s not here? Most of our traditional competitors, right, because we’re being asked to provide that bridge between old and new, serverless, server, the things that make people… Because we’ve been open forever. So it’s a weird… You think about it that way. It makes a lot more sense in how we see the world.

Patrick Moorhead: No, I appreciate that. Gosh, I think we made it 10, 15 minutes in the conversation without grinding into AI, but I think it’s time to dive in here. And there’s an expression that I heard this week. HPE is AI native strategy. And I don’t think… Maybe it’s new or I wasn’t paying attention, but can you talk about what that means and then some of the offerings that you’re rolling out here at the show?

Rob Miller: AI isn’t a bolt on, right? AI is the fundamental part of how intelligence is distracted and expressed. So how do we do rapid decision support? How do we help take waste out of systems? How do we help around sustainability? Those become a central part. So it’s not an afterthought anymore. So people who build systems and say, “Oh, I want to lump some AI into it,” that’s not what we do. Why did we buy OpsRank lotteries? One of the biggest reasons are the use of AI tools to be able to predict. So we’re now in the services business. We’re delivering a service on so much property, or in a co-location. We need to have tools that help us increase the uptime of those for customer satisfaction. So we integrate AI into what we do and suddenly we realize, “Hey, guess what? AI is an active part of business now.”

It’s not an afterthought. It’s not a sidecar. So if you look at our acquisitions, both software and hardware acquisitions, it’s been leading in that direction. And I have active cloud AI conversations, because we’re not bound by some of the traditional cloud architectures. So we can offer things where we can run hybrid workloads that are traditional x86 workloads in a public cloud and take advantage of our incredibly deep hardware expertise around AI at scale. So it ends up being, customers will come to us and say, “Wait a minute. AI isn’t just a thing or a buzzword. It’s what we do now.” Yeah, F1, right? We just talked about that. The amount of AI that goes into race strategy predictability is fascinating, right? Because it turns out that that’s where optimization is, how business finds efficiency, and AI is the heart of that. And our native AI strategy is integrating those tools, whether it’s our development environment, our data management environment, our compute environment, our delivery environment so that customers can operationalize AI in real time.

Patrick Moorhead: It’s AI first. Got it.

Rob Miller: It’s just no different. I mean, AI is the thing, right? Celebrated computing is computing. It’s where the world’s headed. Again, gravity, you can’t fight gravity.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I like it. I like what you said about how intelligence is expressed. I don’t think I’ve heard it said that way before, Rob, but I like that because in the end, especially generative AI, the whole idea is basically you’ve got all this data. People are longing to parse the insights. We’ve talked about content shock and overload and the volume and how people are able to take all this info, all the structured and unstructured, and pull it together and ultimately get a meaningful output or something meaningful that they can consume. The dashboard, that one short thing. And so, it’s the expression of the intelligence is a byproduct of running a real top to bottom stack of AI for your enterprise.

Rob Miller: It’s integrated, right? It is just part of how you do business now. So we see it that way and it’s been a very effective way for us to express the cloud to people in a way they’re like, “Oh, okay, I get this.” Right? It’s a thing. It’s not a bunch of different things. Yeah.

Daniel Newman: Absolutely. Well, Rob, I want to thank you so much for joining us here on The Six Five. It’s great that you got off the floor for a bit and you came up here to The Six Five media lounge to talk to Pat, and I, and I hope we’ll have you back soon.

Rob Miller: I appreciate that. Great conversation. Thanks for having me.

Patrick Moorhead: Thanks Rob.

Rob Miller: Sure.

Daniel Newman: All right, everybody. Hit that subscribe button and join Patrick and I for all the episodes of The Six Five on the road here at AWS re: Invent 2023 in Las Vegas. In fact, hit that subscribe button and join us for all the episodes all the time. But for this show, it’s time we say goodbye. See you later.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.