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Cloud Services Attack: HPE Revolutionizes On-Premise Storage With Data Services Salvo

‘We have a whole Rolling Thunder of cloud native and cloud-centric storage and data services coming over the next year plus,’ says HPE Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Storage Business Tom Black. ‘This is the opening round. This is a very different company moving forward. This is a tremendous opportunity for partners.’

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Tuesday turned the heat up on storage competitors with a breakthrough data-services, software-as-a-service (SaaS) makeover that delivers a unified cloud native, software defined public cloud experience on premise.

The new storage -as-a-service subscription model provides partners with a complete cloud software based provisioning platform with a new Data Services Cloud Console, a new suite of subscription storage data services and new storage systems – All-NVMe Alletra 6000 and 9000 systems - that raise the ante in the intensely competive business critical flash and mission critical storage market.

The data services transformation of the $4.68 billion storage business is the brainchild of HPE Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Storage Business Tom Black.

Black, who took the helm of the business unit 15 months ago, said the groundbreaking new platform with AI based workload provisioning sets the stage for a new era of cloud storage opportunity for partners.

“We have a whole Rolling Thunder of cloud native and cloud centric storage and data services coming over the next year plus,” promised Black. “This is the opening round. This is a very different company moving forward. This is a tremendous opportunity for partners.”

The new cloud based data services – which are all available with the HPE GreenLake pay-per-use, on premises cloud services platform -gives HPE a leg up against rivals who are racing to catch up with the edge to cloud platform as-a-service powerhouse’s aggressive pivot to an as-a-service model, said Black. “No one has made a pivot this hard,” he said.

HPE’s Data Services Cloud Console and data services, in fact, gives HPE a “head start” in the on premise storage as-a-service race against competitors, said Black.

“Everything about this transformational pivot we are making is about efficiency, speed and a cloud operational model,” he said. “This is not about selling bits to customers as a primary focus. This is about a true north obsession with the customer’s operational experience and how they do business with a partner. We flipped this business on its head.”

Black, who before taking the helm of the storage business headed up the Aruba cloud first software switching business, said key to building the unified cloud native, software defined storage platform was leveraging Aruba’s cloud first Aruba Central software and refashioning it into a SaaS based storage as-a-service platform.

“Nobody has got anything like this,” said Black. “This is unique in the industry. We have built a common cloud platform in the company that is based off of seven years of Aruba development. That platform has over 2 million devices under management, production clusters around the world in 11 different geographies. It is a full blown SaaS platform that Aruba was adding applications on top of strictly for networking.”

HPE made the storage data services announcement one day prior to Dell Technologies’ World Digital Experience conference which runs virtually on May 5 and 6. Dell is expected to provide an update at the virtual conference on its Project Apex as-a-service strategy.

Under the new HPE Data Services Cloud Console, the provisioning of storage is completed with a few quick clicks with recommendations based on HPE’s AI (artificial intelligence) based InfoSight predictive analytics engine with a 10 year plus history of storage workload data.

The data services model opens the door for partners to manage multiple storage accounts for customers with a global view of a customer’s storage systems through a dashboard. That platform also leads to new managed services opportunities for partners to provide virtual storage support across a broad spectrum of customers, said Black. “This brings a cloud operating model and an opportunity for managed services to my partners,” said Black.

Black said he views the new cloud operational model as another step in HPE’s bid to make it “more profitable” for partners to do business” with HPE. He said it is no mistake that new cloud data services model follows the February HPE acquisition of CloudPhysics. That deal provided partners with a a SaaS-based tool that analyzes on-premises IT environments and provides quick return on investment recommendations for cloud migrations, application modernization and infrastructure.

“This is a deliberate series of steps we are taking to help move our giant partner ecosystem into a cloud operations model for themselves and their customers,” said Black. “We are bringing them along for the journey- not cutting them out. As long as you are my partner, I am bringing you a bigger TAM (Total Addressable Market) and I’m making it easier for you to make money”

The innovative HPE cloud storage platform instantly brings a plethora of storage options from all flash to mission critical systems in a cloud operational model that are automatically selected based on the customer’s IT estate. The intelligent cloud platform chooses the best array based on the application workload profile, capacity and host connectivity.

“You don’t need to worry about (storage) boxes anymore,” said Black. “You just describe your workload and we auto-configure everything, latch it up and away you go! This is the definition of cloud native. When you talk about instantiating a service versus piloting a piece of hardware there is a dramatic difference. We are bringing this cloud operational model into an on premise estate. This is done with a very mature, massively scalable global SaaS platform that is unique to Hewlett Packard Enterprise.”

The new cloud storage data services platform is another example of HPE’s “leadership” in the on premise cloud pay-per-use market, said Steve Lankard, vice president and principal of the infrastructure solutions practice at CBTS, the $1 billion HPE Platinum partner.

“Data Services Cloud Console and the newly announced Alletra storage systems are another step forward in HPE continuing to lead in this everything as-a-service transformation,” said Lankard. “What is cool is they are creating in my opinion greater value than just selling point storage solutions. They are focusing on data services for application workloads which is higher value than just a point storage solution. If they execute on what we have seen it is going to allow customers to move faster to provision storage services based on the needs of the users of the application.”

The Data Services Cloud Console’s ability to intelligently provision storage based on the application workload, performance, availability and scale requirements is a breakthrough, said Lankard. “What HPE has done is take something that today is difficult, complex and prone to human error and make it simple, fast and automated,” he said “Instead of managing separate storage systems with separate software, HPE is bringing it all together in an intelligent cloud based management console that controls data services across multiple storage platforms. What they showed is pretty impressive and they have a vision to do more with it over time.”

Lankard said he is “excited” about the new opportunities that will come with the new storage cloud service model. “I think customers are going to view this as very valuable,” he said. “It is definitely something that is disruptive and takes HPE forward on the everything as-a-service vision that (HPE CEO) Antonio (Neri) has layed out. It allows them to maintain their leadership in on premise as-a-service and opens up opportunities for partners to be more successful.”

The cloud storage services offensive comes with HPE’s GreenLake pay-per-use cloud platform gaining momentum. CBTS, for example, is seeing growth with GreenLake with a robust sales pipeline. “We have closed some projects and we have seen those projects expand,” said Lankard.

The on premise cloud pay-per-use model is resonating with customers who are used to cloud economics and are anxious to take advantage of the CBTS’ managed services on top of the GreenLake pay-per-use platform, said Lankard. “When HPE is rolling out these as-a-service offerings they are absolutely looking at and considering partner profitability,” he said. “They are looking at how can partners participate and drive success.”

The new storage cloud data services give customers a “public cloud look, feel and experience” for on premise storage, said Pat O’Dell, general manager and managing partner for Clinton, N.J.-based solution provider CPP Associates, HPE’s U.S. North America Solution Provider of the Year. “This is all about what I call the five S’s- simplicity, speed, security, SLA (Service Level Agreements) and scale,” he said. “Those Five S’s and the cloud like experience makes us as partners more valuable to our customers.”

The storage makeover moves HPE firmly beyond the “price per gigabyte” to data services, reaching beyond traditional IT storage adminstrators to data managers, application owners, developers, data analysts data scientists and even CEOs and CFOs, said O’Dell. “With these changes, HPE is accelerating the time to build, scale and deploy applications and in the process becoming more valuable to more people and therefore making us as partners more valuable,” he said.

O’Dell expects the data services model to provide a boost to CPP’s HPE storage business which is already growing at a double digit clip. “The HPE unified data operations model is going to make it easier for us to accelerate and broaden our storage conversations with customers,” he said.

O’Dell said the unified data operations model fits squarely into the GreenLake pay-per-use cloud platform. “This dovetails nicely into GreenLake,” he said. “This whole unifed data operations model is all delivered as-a-service. It fits right into the GreenLake conversation whether you are looking at on premise or the cloud.”

O’Dell credited Black and HPE CEO Antonio Neri for giving partners an “early mover” advantage with pay-per-use on premise cloud services. “Clients want a cloud like experience whether they are in the public cloud, on premise or a hybrid environment. This cloud management platform gives the customers the ability to do what they want to do. They are all concerned with governance, compliance, SLAs, self provisioning and time to market. This brings all of that to them.”

The new intelligent data services platform is a huge leap forward in delivering on the promise of everything as-a-service with AI driven workload based provisioning, said Dan Molina, chief technology officer for Nth Generation, San Diego, HPE’s North America as-a-service partner of the year. “This gives HPE an advantage in the everything as-a-service versus competitors,” he said. “HPE continues to make significant progress on delivering on the promise of everything as-a-service. Some of the other competitors are starting to head in this direction, but they have a ways to go to catch up to HPE. The heart of the data services innovation HPE is bringing to customers is based on workload optimized provisioning with AI. That is technology HPE has continued to enhance over the last several years with InfoSight and Aruba Central. Those technologies are providing workload optimized provisioning that is highly secure.”

The new data services model has major advantages over public cloud, said Molina, with the ability to provide a secure on premise pay-per-use cloud without the unpredictable cost of public cloud with egress fees in some cases for removing data. “Customers want predictable costs,” he said. “That’s a huge factor for customers with set budgets. That is something that is sometimes hard to get with public cloud. That is one of the big points we will be talking to our customers about.”

Another big benefit for the HPE data services model is the security advantages that HPE has honed over many years with HPE Aruba Central, InfoSight and other technologies that are part of the data services model, said Molina. The rise in nation state attacks could be a critical factor in customers choosing GreenLake over public cloud, he said.

“The harsh reality is the US is a country under cyber-attack,” he said. “The cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated.” The HPE model provides the same benefits of public cloud but the infrastructure resides on premise or at a colocation provider. The likelihood of that infrastructure being attacked by a major foreign entity is lower. Those foreign entities are more likely to attack public clouds with thousands of different organizations depending on them.”

Molina said he expects the data services model to accelerate the fast growing GreenLake pay-per-use model. Nth Generation’s GreenLake business is growing at a 33 percent clip. “We just closed another deal this week,” said Molina. “We see tremendous momentum.”

That momentum comes with HPE delivering on the ambitious data insight and everything as-a-service vision laid out by Neri three years ago. “It’s great to see a leader set a vision and then deliver on it even though it seemed initially like an almost impossible task.,” Molina said. “HPE has climbed a high mountain to get to this intelligent data services platform. As a technologist it is incredibly exciting for me to see HPE deliver market leading technology with artificial intelligence and machine learning integrated to provide real business benefits for customers.”

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