Exploring HPE’s Hybrid Cloud Strategy with OpsRamp’s Varma Kunaparaju – 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 OpsRamp co-founder and CEO Varma Kunaparaju for a conversation on HPE’s hybrid strategy and how they help customers solve their hybrid cloud challenges. OpsRamp is a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company and was acquired earlier this year by HPE.

Their discussion covers:

  • An overview of OpsRamp foundation and why it was an attractive acquisition for HPE
  • HPE’s overall hybrid cloud strategy
  • How OpsRamp and HPE are helping customers solve their toughest hybrid cloud challenges in a way that’s hybrid by design
  • Why OpsRamp is a great solution to improve your ITOM across all cloud environments

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’re having some incredible interviews with key leaders of companies. Daniel, it’s great to see you. It really is a village of opportunity and innovation out there that comes together here at the show. And we’ve had some incredible conversations, and I’m super excited about this one.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I actually just made a full cross AWS re:Invent sprint from the expo. And let me tell you, it is probably the most jam packed part of AWS re:Invent that I’ve seen so far. So going booth to booth, and this isn’t just the mega booths, there’s small innovators, there’s SI and partners, there’s data intelligence companies. The ecosystem around AWS, Pat, is telling a story, and that story is that it takes a village.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, it does. And the future is hybrid, even though I’ve been yelling this from the mountaintops, and I think a lot of people have listened, and I do do victory laps these days. But 10 years ago we had this, everything was going to be in the public cloud. And then everybody’s like, okay, it’s a little bit harder and maybe the payback is not exactly where it needs to be. And one of the companies who has embraced hybrid bring the cloud, bring the cloud to you, bring the cloud to me is HPE, and they have a huge event that unfortunately we can’t be at personally. But one key element of HPE strategy is ITOM, and one of the companies who really brought that to the forefront that was acquired by HPE was OpsRamp. And I’m very pleased to introduce OpsRamp cofounder, now part of HP, welcome to The Six Five for the first time. And I know, Varma, you are about to get on a plane to go to the event.

Varma Kunaparaju: Thank you.

Patrick Moorhead: Great to see you.

Varma Kunaparaju: Great to have me here. Thank you very much for bringing me on to The Six Five media.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, it’s great to have you here. We’ve had many of your peers, colleagues, Antonio’s been with us a number of different times, always enjoy the conversation and by the way, kind of bring the talent to us, as we like to say, because we couldn’t be out in Barcelona with you. But we are definitely keeping tabs from afar. Before we dive in and talk a little bit about the event, the all in on hybrid thing, give us a little bit, I love a good founder story. You were a co-founder. You part of the-

Patrick Moorhead: Yes, serial entrepreneur too. Wonderful.

Daniel Newman: I love it. But he’s still here.

Patrick Moorhead: I know.

Daniel Newman: Which always is indicative. So that tells a story by the way. Give us a little bit of the background, the run-up, what you were working on and what caught the apple of the HPE eye.

Varma Kunaparaju: So if you look at OpsRamp Foundation days from the day one of the company when we started, the vision behind us is that the world of IT is becoming more and more complex and federated. Infrastructure which used to be in on-prem data centers is getting federated to hybrid and multi-cloud. And the people to manage that infrastructure used to be central IT. It’s no longer central IT anymore. It’s a combination of Devops, SRE, ITOps, all of them participating into a cohesive ecosystem to make applications delivered to their business units. If you look at that complexity and the legacy IT management systems when we started OpsRamp, they were all built 20, 25 years ago when the infrastructure was on-prem, central IT used to do everything that needs to be done.

Patrick Moorhead: Monolithic applications, everything is on that server. Yes.

Varma Kunaparaju: So we saw a unique opportunity to build a modern operations management stack, which by design from the day of the foundation of the company, hybrid is going to be there for a long time to come. Central IT is moving more and more into a service provider model to give visibility of what they are doing and what they’re providing to the lines of business. And the application and infrastructures are more dynamic than ever before. So that is the foundation to build OpsRamp, and that really resulted in building a modern observability, hybrid observability stack, from edge to cloud delivered as a service is the foundation of OpsRamp.

Patrick Moorhead: So HPE has been all in on hybrid. I mean some of the statements that HPE made, many times they’re first with what they predict. I mean, they talked about the edge and the importance of the edge, and boom, the edge is very important. The idea of this on-prem cloud that doesn’t ignore the reality of the public cloud or a public sovereign cloud or another sovereign cloud through an acquisition. I am interested in your thinking newly brought into HPE. When you look at how HPE arrived at that, is it similar to the thought process with OpsRamp? I just wanted to get your take on that, on the overall HPE hybrid strategy and your thoughts on them getting there.

Varma Kunaparaju: I think if you look at HPE from the time that Antonio has been preaching this for the last seven, eight years, saying that edge to cloud delivered as a service, the whole brand of GreenLake got established to deliver this hybrid experience for the enterprises. And in the journey, edge is playing a major role. edge is becoming more and more intelligent. If you look at the new edge infrastructures, retails and retail locations, they’re bringing more and more intelligent applications that gets delivered from the edge all the way from cloud, hybrid, to the edge. So HPE endorsed this edge to cloud delivered as a service. And the vision behind the one platform to drive with Greenlake platform is to be able to make enterprises consume the infrastructure wherever it is in meaningful ways that they can deliver at the end customer’s needs and business units needs. And that’s probably unique in some ways compared to most other large OEMs because there are assets in HPE that use edge, that use hybrid, that can also post into cloud. And that unique GreenLake platform will bring right workloads to the right needs for the end-to-end customers to conduct.

Patrick Moorhead: As a service.

Varma Kunaparaju: As a service.

Daniel Newman: Which is a competitive moat, but it’s also sort of a proclamation that’s being made by many across the industry right now. And so I agree with you, by the way. I think both our firms, but we were definitely working very closely with HPE early because we saw what they were trying to do and understood it. And while a lot of analysts to your point and pundits were saying, “Oh, it’s all going to public,” we were like, “Mm-mm.” What GreenLake was doing from the earliest days and even when it at the next point-

Patrick Moorhead: It was next, right?

Daniel Newman: Yeah, before they kind of fully GreenLaked everything. People want to consume things like the cloud, but they don’t necessarily want everything in the cloud. And that was really the original ethos of the whole thing, but now it’s matured. I would say that hyperscalers have come towards it, HPE and your peers have gone more towards public, and you’re kind of all converging. So differentiation becomes really important, building a new moat. I guess, I see hybrid by design is something we hear. How are you evolving the way you’re telling the story to continue to be differentiated and to continue to help your customers get hybrid by design?

Varma Kunaparaju: I think if you look at the differentiation in terms of what OpsRamp and HPE bringing through GreenLake platform is to be able to give visibility wherever the workloads are. The first order of priority is giving visibility between edge to cloud, the entire stack, giving their visibility. Second one is observability to be able to give what needs to be done to make those workloads deliver the performance and availability and capacity that is needed for business units to consume. The third element of that is automation and being able to really give the framework that allows the edge to cloud delivered in an automated way to the end consumer of the IT. So all of that plays a core differentiation in delivering that edge to cloud as a service. So what OpsRamp is bringing to GreenLake platform and HPE’s GreenLake strategy is that differentiation of being able to kind of gear multi vendor, multi cloud, with 2,500 plus integrations that OpsRamp brings. That ability to gear that edge to cloud delivered as a service in a very unique, differentiated manner.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, I mean let’s hit the differentiation point. I know you do more than observability. Observability is a key linchpin in that, and the auto operations automagically with switches and being able to go in and not only figure out what’s going on, but also to automatically make changes and adjust. How are you differentiated versus let’s say some of the other players out there in ITOM? And I know ITOM is more than observability, but how about differentiation versus some of the observability folks that we’ve seen acquisitions going on? I mean it is a lot of things going on in this market, quite frankly. Congratulations on your acquisition as part of that whole wave.

Varma Kunaparaju: Thank you. No, I think two pieces of the puzzle, right? If you look at enterprise tool stack today, they’re siloed, right? You have cloud, cloud native environments, which is getting tooled with whatever observability stacks that are needed. The hybrid on-prem infrastructures have their own legacy tool stacks that sits in that environment. Then there are tools that are coming to do some alert correlation and bring the alerts from cloud and on-prem to create a stack on top of the layer. The uniqueness that we bring to the table is not just add one more tool to the tool stack, but bring a framework that enterprises can consume in a manner that allows them to do integrate to consolidate. Number one, they can modernize their legacy tools. Number two, they can bring visibility to not only hybrid but multi-cloud environments. Number three, not just HPE but non-HPE environments also being able to be seen and give a framework that allows operations to be automated. That is the uniqueness that OpsRamp brings. To answer your question, this is not one more tool in the tool stack. This is a framework for enterprises to really modernize their operations, allow them to consume multi and hybrid-cloud environments in a way that makes sense for them and deliver business services that they need to deliver to the lines of business.

Patrick Moorhead: I appreciate that and here we are at AWS re:Invent. You offer that as one part of it, doing this through AWS, in addition to other cloud partners and on-prem, sovereign, on-prem clouds, and the edge as well?

Varma Kunaparaju: Yeah. OpsRamp has complete integrations to all the cloud providers, popular cloud providers. Of course, AWS being one of the leaders in the hyperscalers. We have deep integrations into AWS Stack and other cloud providers on the on-prem side. We have deep integrations to not just HPE, but all non-HPE environments.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, I saw that in the acquisition information. That was really interesting I thought because one of the only folks who has that.

Varma Kunaparaju: Yeah, I think it is important because we recognize no enterprise IT environment is going to be monolithic with one vendor. You have network, you have compute stories, and you have edge infrastructure. There are other vendors who will participate into the ecosystem. That is critical for operations.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, it is, and it is the future. And I know the purists dislike this characterization, but it’s a hybrid multi-cloud fabric that goes across all of the different places that you’re processing data, storing data, moving data, and you have to have some sort of consistent operations and observability across all of that. Otherwise, you’re standing up, we’re back to the days where you had a separate team for mainframe, a separate team for mini-computer, a separate team for x86, and now we’re standing up separate teams for every single cloud. And what IT is really asking for is, hey, help me with this madness, right? Give me some consistency so I don’t have to create all of these stovepipes.

Varma Kunaparaju: You hit the problem on the head. The siloed operations doesn’t give what enterprise needs to give to really act as a service provider to the lines of business. So for them, the unification and simplification is super critical as they endorse this hybrid cloud journey. And the uniqueness of what we bring with this partnership with HPE, to give it to the enterprise CIOs, is an ability for them to give visibility and automation framework for delivering operations across hybrid multi-cloud.

Daniel Newman: Varma, dare I ask how we made it through the whole conversation and you never talked about AI?

Patrick Moorhead: It’s been tough these days, right?

Daniel Newman: Well, I do want to ask though, in your space, obviously HPE has a pretty bold and broad AI story. But in the part that you’re kind of paying attention to and leading, how is AI shifting the pace? I mean, we’re seeing obviously observability grow, but isn’t AI going to supersize, super speed, revolutionize this very quickly?

Varma Kunaparaju: I’m glad that you asked this question because I think if you look at the complexity of observability data, gone are the days where you bring alerts and somehow make a signature out of those alerts to determine the level one talent to be optimized by doing alert correlation. That’s where the world of AI applied two, three years ago for alert correlation. The so-called AI ops companies, they process those alerts and provide a meaningful signal out of those alert signals. But today, with the complexity of observability data where it is metrics, it’s logs, it’s traces, it is topology information, it’s synthetics and user performance, application performance data. All of that needs to be ingested and really figure out what the probable root cause for that is. And this is where AI machine learning large language models are applied to determine that probable root cause. And that’s what OpsRamp is doing with our AI journey to kind of say, and we are very unique from that perspective because we have discovery, topology information, observability information, and automation framework to be able to do much more than any AI machine learning on a point tool siloed solutions that are out there. And our probable root cause driven AI framework is already out, and we are delivering these solutions today to the market.

Patrick Moorhead: What’s clear is that generative AI may be the buzzword, but from a say-do ratio, I think we’re talking as an industry 95% and doing about 5%. And I understand that most of all of tech is not about an or. Sorry, it’s an and, right? We still do analytics even though we have machine learning. We still do machine learning even though we have deep learning. And now we have generative AI, and we’re going to keep doing all. Any uniqueness around generative AI capabilities in your world that you see as it bringing disparate, bigger data together? Is it making life easier for some of the things you might do in the future?

Varma Kunaparaju: Absolutely. The answer is to both yes. Right? Being able to ingest such large volumes of data and finding the needle in the haystack just for saying that this is the root cause is one piece of the puzzle, but doing it in a way where in natural language, hey, the root cause for this is because of ABC, not being able to deliver, is where the language models can be applied and meaningfully. And develops person does not want to be woken up every night with a lot of pagers. That job of paging on every alert is gone. The developer wants to focus on writing intelligent code that solves the problem, not in the ops. Though it’s called DevOps, he wants to be a developer. He doesn’t want to be an ops person.

Patrick Moorhead: Wants to be the dev.

Varma Kunaparaju: Yeah. What can technologies with large language models really provide the operations framework to be streamlined so that the developer can focus on development, not on the ops is where I think these two answers to your question on where the large language models and generative AI can take.

Patrick Moorhead: Right. Makes sense.

Daniel Newman: Where so many of the technologies end up going is about freeing the most creative, the most unique skill sets to be in focus, and those things that can be those mundane, those repetitive, we’re still doing that, and generative AI is just accelerating it. But Varma, I know you got a plane to catch? I’m very excited to hear and see what comes out of HPE Discover this year, so we’ll be watching. I want to thank you so much for joining us here on The Six Five.

Varma Kunaparaju: Thank you for having me. Appreciate you both taking a few minutes from your schedules to kind of have me.

Daniel Newman: Absolutely. Let’s have you back again soon. All right, everybody hit that subscribe button. Join us here in The Six Five media lounge for all of our coverage. And of course, just hit that subscribe button and catch all of Patrick and I’s interviews and, of course, our weekly show. For this episode though, we got to say goodbye. We’ll see you all 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.