Were you to have been asked that question some years ago, the answer most likely would have bee “I’m not sure”....
HPE: News from the very top …
NonStop Insider - HPEDan
When HPE CEO Antonio Neri walked onto the stage at HPE Discover 2018 and provided the keynote address, there was much that was new even as there were numerous anecdotes that simply reinforced just how personable Neri is – a different CEO than previously seen, addressing the biggest community audience of the year. Among the very first items Neri covered was the introduction to the audience of his family, seated in the front row. This was to be repeated later in the event when on Wednesday night, having introduced the entertainment for the evening – the band, One Republic, he stepped off the stage and joined the crowd gathered in front of the stage enjoying a time of face-level exchanges with individuals in the crowd. No special area had been roped off for the CEO and there was no equivalent of a Royal Box. Yes, a very different CEO!
When you consider the major element of Neri’s keynote presentation it was all about deliverables. Execution on the vision and strategy, if you like. Deep into his presentation Neri welcomed to the stage leaders of Travelport and Ford Motor Company. Travelport provides a backend platform for travel related booking companies and “the platform captures more than 6 billion travel-related messages a day.” They were among the earliest of HPE users to deploy HPE Superdome Flex systems – a memory-centric computer leveraging The Machine concept. Ford, on the other hand, is building out four hubs using HPE Superdome Flex as it pushes deeper into autonomous vehicles which will generate enormous volumes of data. What stood out here were real world users of systems newly introduced into the marketplace. It’s not unusual for HPE executives to welcome on stage CEOs and CIOs from their customer base – it was only a couple of years ago we all welcomed Home Depot to the stage – but the message from Neri was all about the rate of take-up of products, key to the message of transformation to hybrid IT.
As HPE Discover 2018 wound down, Fortune Magazine published an interview with Antoni Neri on Friday, June 22, Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri Talks Meg Whitman, Microsoft, and Cloud. I would be surprised if the interview hadn’t been carried out during HPE Discover or at the very least, a day or two before the event kicked off as it is extremely topical and includes references that Neri made in his presentation. According to the introduction preamble to the interview, reporter Jonathan Vanian notes:
“Part of Neri’s plan to revamp HPE involves a so-called hybrid IT model, in which companies operate their computing in both their own data centers and those of cloud computing providers … HPE also hopes that the rise of Internet-connected devices, like factory machinery or elevators that are tethered to the web, will result in more companies processing information right at the assembly line or on the machines themselves, instead of sending the data off to the their in-house data centers and those of cloud giants.”
Fortune began the interview by asking Neri a couple of questions about his predecessors where Neri noted he really was just the fifth HP insider to helm the company:
“Carly Fiorina, Mark Hurd, Léo Apotheker and even Meg (Whitman) for that matter (came from the outside) … If we go back to the beginning of Meg’s journey here, she had a very tough situation. She had to reignite innovation, bring back the companies with customers and products, and repair the balance sheet – there was a lot of complexity … But fundamentally she had to put in place a turnaround plan. So the first two years was: ‘Let’s focus on a few things, let’s invest in R and D (research and development), let’s make sure we stabilize the company. Let’s make sure we bring the companies back to the partners, which is the largest route to market we have, and let’s repair the balance sheet.’ After that, we understood what’s going on in the market and the fact that an IT supermarket is not the right way to construct yourself.”
More interesting perhaps was the topic of not just clouds but the edge. When Fortune asked, ‘what does the edge refer to?’ Neri’s response was both telling and a reminder of why HPE is going after the high-value marketplace and leaving to others, including Dell/EMC, to peruse the low-value generic servers sought after by cloud computing companies:
Fortune: What does the “edge” refer to?
Neri: Anything outside the data center. As I think about the future, I think about the use cases that we see with everything being hyper connected. Everything is generating data and everything is computing—even a small sensor is doing something—it’s creating a small amount of data.
Think about the economics—think about the amount of data we create, there is not enough bandwidth, and it is extremely expensive and there are latency and regulatory issues you have to deal with it.
Fortune: How important are the public cloud providers in this world?
Neri: They are going to be a major component of the system.
Fortune: But do you believe they will be the stars of the solar system, in which everything revolves around them?
Neri: I don’t think so. There will be a role, but I don’t think it will be “sun and the earth” kind of a thing. I think they’re realizing that while they have a beneficial model, they have to get closer with things that are happening. So, with self-driving cars, the moment you have 10,000 autonomous cars, there is no bandwidth in the cloud that will be able to help manage these 10,000 cars. In this case, the car will talk to the next car and say, “Hey, I’m here I want to turn left while you’re going to turn right.” This is an example of a latency problem. For manufacturers, it is the same thing. Why go back to a cloud when you can process all the data right there in the [manufacturing] line, where it makes sense.
HPE was revealing in that the exhibition hall wasn’t as crowded with exhibitors as in past years nor was there as much space devoted to less value-deriving industry standard platforms as more attention was devoted to the duopoly of cloud and edge. NonStop, as just virtualized NonStop workloads, will be new for the NonStop community and will likely walk a cautious path towards being supported by Synergy. But traditional NonStop users will still be able to buy complete converged systems with all the middleware and tools that they have always relied on HPE providing through the years. And yes, time and data have become the new currency and NonStop isn’t cashing in its chips any time soon, no matter what else might come out of a place likes Las Vegas!