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The HPE Corner

Fresh off the presses following 2017 HPE Discover – NonStop shows no slackening of development pace as it continues to surprise!

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Towards the end of last month’s column I continued with the theme of change and of what I anticipated will be concerning the leadership of HPE. At the time I had written that, while nothing was announced at HPE Discover 2017, the buzz all across the floor of the exhibition was that something was afoot. I also noted how Executive VP, Antonio Neri, occupied the stage for the majority of the time of the only General Session put on by HPE. Well, it didn’t take as long as I had expected before the news broke, Antoni Neri has been promoted to President, HPE.

In hindsight it makes a whole lot of sense as the Enterprise Group (EG) is now the only group within HPE generating revenues and the creation of three distinct divisions within EG – one focusing on software-defined and cloud technologies, one focused on data center infrastructure, and one focused on edge technologies and the internet of things – and a restructuring that was covered in the September 15, 2016, post to the NonStop community blog Real Time View, Changes for the better? HPE to focus on what it does best; infrastructure and platforms! Given these organizational changes of last year, elevating the EG leader to President makes a lot of sense. What doesn’t make a whole lot of sense is having a one-to-one ratio between CEO and President.  However, what makes sense is that this too may be a part of a smooth transition path Whitman has in mind for HPE and for herself.

Traditionally, you will see leaders wearing the full combination of Chairman, CEO and President when there is a corporate structure similar to what we see within HPE. However, oftentimes the addition of “President” is dropped from the title as it is somewhat redundant. When the title President is being used it is frequently associated with multiple leaders – usually of divisions. In other words, the CEO will likely have two or more Presidents (of divisions) reporting to them. This current situation where the organization has a single President reporting to a CEO suggests something else altogether and the best way to think of this is to consider Neri to be a CEO in waiting.

Has this any relevance for the NonStop community and does it even warrant any further discussion? For many members of the NonStop community a sense of stability and order are always important considerations – NonStop systems are rarely if ever bought on a whim. Upon deployment, a NonStop systems can become an integral component of IT for years, sometimes even decades. The investments made in NonStop can be critical to the business performance of those enterprises relying on NonStop and the last thing they need is any hint of uncertainty, particularly when it comes to the leadership of the vendor in this case, HPE. What HPE CEO, Meg Whitman, has brought to HPE has most definitely been stability and I have to believe that the last thing she is looking for now is to upset this stability even as a leadership transformation is in the offing.

All of which is to say, HPE NonStop has undergone tremendous transformation even as the world of IT is transforming. The User Experience (UX) is changing everything and rapidly – not so much a case of the tail wagging the dog so much as it is IT playing catch-up with what is transpiring in the real world. If you don’t have a viable app, you will not sustain a community. In case you missed the presentations at HPE Discover, even when it comes to implementing AI in a useful manner it will more than likely come to us gradually via apps – augmented reality may just be the ability to access specific apps, but in a non-traditional manner, likely via wearables or some other sensor-related interface. But it is that interface and the ensuing UX that is the disruptor today and for the NonStop user, it comes down to transactions that must be executed and where the availability of data and yes, apps, cannot be compromised for any reason. Hence, the resurgence in the appeal of NonStop – it’s going to be a fault-tolerant world, once again.

However, changes in technology and changes in products need to be overseen with a steady hand for the sake of consistency and continuity. HPE has made big bets with The Machine not just as a product but as the driver for changes in the way computers are built and if you look closely at the HPE Synergy “frame” you will see the first signs of the impact on this on some of the fabric that is already included that future-proofs these Synergy frames. I am not suggesting that The Machine will be running NonStop any time soon but rather, with disruptive technologies on the horizon even with transformations as to the way we deploy technologies are under way – think clouds, yes – then the ongoing flow of viable products is paramount. Changing the guard too dramatically at this time could prove more disruptive than any breakthrough coming from the labs so to this end, I see the elevation of Neri to President as part of the plan to make any leadership transition be as transparent as possible.

Is this the last of the changes being made at HPE? Probably not! I see the road being paved to make way for Neri to become CEO and the current leaders of the three divisions to be elevated to Presidents. For many of us this carries little importance and corporate governance isn’t always the first thing we think about when considering our next upgrade for NonStop. However, the message here is that we can still continue to think about that next upgrade for NonStop as those in leadership positions continues to sing the praises of NonStop – I heard that firsthand at HPE Discover on more than one occasion – and that is the degree of stability we all want to see being carried forward. And for that reason alone, I see the gradual changes taking place at the top to be among the least disruptive issues taking place in today’s ever-changing world of IT!