The final quarter of HPE’s financial year 2018 has just come to a close and the press announcements and analyst reports are...
HPE: News from the very top …
In a rare demonstration of feisty competitiveness HPE CEO, Antonio Neri, pushed back on recent announcements by Dell. In no uncertain terms, Neri told it like it is and in so doing, aggressively promoted the leadership role HPE is enjoying when it comes to composable infrastructure. This was an important step for Neri to take as it would have been easy for HPE just to ignore Dell but without making a strong statement Neri would have essentially let Dell claim equal footing with HPE and that isn’t something HPE wants to see at this time considering the years of investment HPE has made in composable infrastructure.
When HPE talks about transforming to Hybrid IT one of the key foundation stones aiding the simplification of this transformation is composability. When clouds first appeared on the technology horizon all talk centered on the wonderful benefits that would arise via the “elasticity of provisioning.” What this implied was that IT folks could resource any application simply by checking down a list of icons on a dashboard. When done, they could release the resources just as effectively. However, with experience gained through the years with clouds, there is a layer below the provisioning that is the composable infrastructure. In other words, before you can play you instrument in the orchestra the score has to be written. Don’t call on three tubas to play if there has only been one assigned to the orchestra. You can’t begin placing your own interpretation on a piece of music without the composer having completed writing the score. Today, as enterprises contemplate deploying private clouds as an integral part of their IT data center, first we need to compose before we ask to play.
So what did Dell announce and what made Neri become very vocal on the topic? It started with the report of August 21, 2018, as published on the tech site CRN, Dell EMC Takes On HPE Synergy With ‘Breakthrough’ Composable Infrastructure. Dell EMC is going after HPE “in the modular infrastructure arena by launching its groundbreaking PowerEdge MX, a future-proof composable architecture offering high performance, modular computing, storage and networking infrastructure. The PowerEdge MX differentiates from HPE’s composable infrastructure, Synergy, with the ability to provide customers ‘true server disaggregation’ and ‘full composability that can deliver cloud-like velocity,’ according to Brian Payne, vice president of PowerEdge Product Management and Marketing for Dell EMC.”
Ouch, Neri must have at first cringed and then, wasting very little time, he fired right back. A couple of days later, as reported August 30, 2018, on the same tech site CRN, CRN Exclusive: HPE CEO Neri On Why Dell EMC’s New Composable Infrastructure Is Not ‘Truly Composable’ reporter Steven Burke writes, “Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri says rival Dell EMC is three years late to the composable game with an offering that is simply not ‘truly composable.’” According to Neri:
“First of all, they are three years late to the party. So we think we have a three-year advantage. But, most importantly, it is one more thing sitting on the side. There is no true end-to-end integration of that. By the way, when we think about composable infrastructure we think about a true fluid pool of resources – not a bunch of disaggregated hardware components.
“The magic that we do is called HPE OneView, which is the software-defined layer and the intelligence built into that software-defined layer that makes that infrastructure truly composable.
“This new infrastructure that Dell announced is not truly composable. Eventually they may get there, but I will tell you it takes an enormous amount of effort, years of investment in R&D work, and that is why we are very, very confidence about our differentiation.”
One further observation on composable infrastructure came in a blog post of August 31, 2018, by Gary Thome, HPE Chief Technologist Software Defined Infrastructure and Cloud, who wrote:
“Our approach to creating the composable infrastructure category was first to create the Unified API, followed by the composable infrastructure partner ecosystem and finally, the composable infrastructure platform, HPE Synergy. Dell EMC, in designing its new product, seems to have started with the box which, based on my many customer interactions, is the last detail that should be addressed when you are looking to create a truly composable solution. Successful design of a software-defined infrastructure needs to begin with the software—something upon which IDC agrees. In the Worldwide Composable / Disaggregated Infrastructure (CDI) Market Forecast, 2018-2023, IDC states:
‘From a systems perspective, any CDI architecture is made up of two parts: The first part is the ability to (dis)aggregate IT resources into compute, storage, and fabric pools, and the second part is the ability to compose consumable resources from such disaggregated pools via a unified API. Intelligent software therefore is needed to manage all the distinct assets and to compose the optimal configuration for a specific application. The success for CDI therefore rests entirely on software intelligence and hardware capabilities.’
“No one wants to be seen as a follower, so Dell EMC chose to describe its partially composable infrastructure by a different name: ‘kinetic.’ I don’t believe that a new name changes what the technology actually offers, and industry experts like Chris Mellor at Register and Timothy Prickett Morgan at The Next Platform have also noted the difference between the HPE offering and new-to-market competitors like Dell EMC, calling the new systems partially-composable rather than composable or even, kinetic.”
So there, Michael Dell, nice try, but no cigar! To date, there hasn’t been a reply coming from Dell EMC but it’s clear that Neri is spoiling for a very public fight and we haven’t seen anything like this coming from HPE in a very long time. Rarely in the past has HPE stood up to competitors butchering their message to marginalize any breakthrough HPE makes but this time, it’s clear the gloves have come off!