26 Jun HPE Discover 2018: Livin’ On The Edge

Hewlett Packard Enterprise ’s Discover conference was held in Las Vegas last week and the company was laser-focused on edge computing, cloud computing, and the autonomous datacenter. When it comes to technology conferences, most companies strive to paint an inspiring vision of the future. Oftentimes though, that vision is almost science fiction—no real linkage to the “here and now.” HPE, however, did a good job of tying its long-term vision to short-term solutions, with a “roll up the sleeves and get it done” attitude.

First takeaway – HPE is serious about the edge

While edge computing may be a relatively new term to some, the concept of edge has existed for a while. HPE has always been a player in the implementation of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems that run manufacturing floors, oil & gas refineries, and other industrial environments, but now the edge market is expanding, and real time analysis and decision making is critical. At Discover, HPE made several announcements around the “intelligent edge” that demonstrate just how strategic the company views this market.

First, HPE made a financial commitment of $4 billion over four years towards implementing its edge strategy. This is a significant investment in the technology, services, and organization HPE sees as necessary to play in this marketplace. The intelligent edge is only as intelligent as the infrastructure and analytics software that reside locally, ingesting data every second, millisecond, and microsecond. HPE seems to get this and is making the necessary investments to enable that (not so distant) future state.

Second, HPE made a number of product announcements that will help companies transform the daily deluge of data being produced into intelligence. Specifically, HPE announced the enablement of a number of fully performant software stacks on the HPE Edgeline EL1000 and EL4000 Converged Edge Systems. Those stacks include:

  • Microsoft SQL Server & Azure technology
  • SAP HANA
  • Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop
  • PTC ThingWorx
  • GE Digital’s Predix Platform
  • SparkCognition SparkPredict

Why is this significant? By enabling full-functioning applications around data collection, aggregation, analysis, and intelligence, HPE is giving customers the compute resources and software ecosystem partners to fully enable the intelligent edge—connecting operational technology (OT) with information technology (IT). HPE also announced the HPE Edgeline Extended Storage Adapter option kit.  This allows those Edgeline converged systems to attach to up to 48 terabytes of software-defined storage.

Lastly, HPE’s networking division painted a vision of how its technology will enable intelligent networking, from edge-to-cloud-to-datacenter. HPE’s announcement and vision is detailed by my colleague, Will Townsend.

Second takeaway – Autonomous computing is coming soon

Imagine a world where IT organizations simply rack servers and walk away. From there, lifecycle management is fully automated—provisioning, deployment, maintenance, utilization optimization, workload migrations, predictive failure, security, and eventually end-of-life. HPE started to paint this futuristic vision at Discover 2018. Before you say to yourself “this sounds like science fiction…,” hold on and read ahead.

HPE’s view seems to be that the modern datacenter is not a room with a bunch of racks that contain servers, storage, and networking. Instead, it is a center of data that spans from that sensor on an oil rig (for example), connected to a ruggedized edge platform across an intelligently switched network, to the cloud and/or a server room sitting in corporate headquarters. All of these devices, networking gear, and collected data will require more than a bunch of IT administrators and technicians to manage, and that’s where autonomous compute comes into play.

Alain Andreoli painted a compelling vision of the autonomous datacenter. My firm’s Founder and Principal Analyst, Patrick Moorhead, followed with a panel discussion (35:00-minute mark of Alain’s video) that showed this vision in practice today (side note: it’s well worth watching).

HPE has the IP portfolio to enable the autonomous datacenter. Its systems management capabilities, through OneView, have always been strong. OneSphere and Infosight (part of the Nimble acquisition) bring new dimensions to the equation, in terms of cloud optimization and the beginnings of AI for infrastructure management. Additionally, Greenlake delivers additional cost efficiencies through a consumption-based model. The long-term key to success in software-defined infrastructure and autonomous compute will be integration. Based on what I saw and heard at Discover, I think HPE is well on its way to delivering.

Closing thoughts – it’s the little things that matter

Trade shows can be inspiring, but after a few days of reflection, it’s sometimes hard to remember what it was that actually inspired you. Mainly because (as previously mentioned), the visions are often disconnected from reality. HPE Discover 2018 was different—the strategy and vision tied directly to what we see in the market.  HPE’s solutions tackle real problems being faced by companies of all sizes, across all verticals, and these solutions are available today.

There was something else that stood out about Discover. Maybe it was the cohesiveness of the messaging, maybe it was watching Antonio Neri deliver his keynote address with rolled-up shirt sleeves (literally), or maybe it was something else, but I walked away from Discover 2018 with the impression that HPE has a clear direction and is rolling up its collective sleeves to get there. HPE’s focus is impressive, and I’m excited to see the company continue to deliver on its vision.