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Container Wars: HPE Throws Down On VMware, Red Hat With Ezmeral Launch

“What we are giving customers with Ezmeral is the only software where you can run legacy apps and cloud native apps under the same pane of glass,” said HPE Chief Technology Officer and Head of Software Kumar Sreekanti,

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Tuesday took the gloves off in the next generation container software battle against rivals VMware and Red Hat with the release of a new open source, cloud native Kubernetes container software brand called Ezmeral.

“We are actually going out there carving out a (next generation container) swim lane for ourselves,” said HPE Chief Technology Officer and Head of Software Kumar Sreekanti, one of the driving forces behind the new Ezmeral software platform, in an interview with CRN. “This is going to be in parallel to (VMware) Tanzu and (Red Hat) OpenShift and now there is Ezmeral.”

The Ezmeral name – which was inspired by the Spanish word for emerald- is a reference to the mythical and transformational powers that the bright green precious stone brings to people.

The new Ezmeral software, which can be purchased both as a cloud service and an on premise software license, is both the heart and central nervous system of an open multicloud platform to modernize applications that can be run and moved seamlessly from the edge to the data center to the cloud. “What we are giving customers with Ezmeral is the only software where you can run legacy apps and cloud native apps under the same pane of glass,” said Sreekanti.

HPE is even allowing the software to run on systems from rivals like Dell and Lenovo. “The vertical stack can run on any hardware or any cloud,” said Sreekanti.

Ezmeral essentially provides the IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service) platforms for partners and customers to build a new generation of intelligent applications that take advantage of the platform’s robust AI and machine learning capabilities, said Sreekanti.

Among HPE’s biggest advantages in the Kubernetes based container software battle against VMware and Red Hat is Ezmeral’s ability to provide “persistent storage” through its MapR file system and the robust AI and machine learning capabilities with HPE BlueData, said Sreekanti, a software innovator who started AI superstar BlueData which was acquired by HPE in 2018.

“We are the only one that has actually integrated persistent storage which is built on one of the world’s most scalable file systems through MapR,” said Sreekanti. That file system runs India’s Aadhaar biometric database which provides a unique record for of all of India’s 1.5 billion citizens.

HPE’s other unique advantage in the software container war is the BlueData AI machine learning software that Sreekanti delivered to customers at BlueData. That software is designed to run both stateful and stateless workloads – essentially allowing HPE to provide the same cloud experience in a cloud native or on premise workload in the data center or even in real time at the edge.

“It is the only one that runs AI (Artificial Intelligence) ML (Machine Learning) Spark (real time data) workloads while running CICD (Continous Integration, Continuous Delivery),” said Srkeenati.

Ezmeral’s AI based PaaS functionality is something that competitors simply can not match, said Sreekanti. “When it comes to the PaaS layer we are the undisputed leader,” he said.

HPE even recently won a significant deal with a large customer that pitted HPE Ezmeral against the competition. “It’s a new workload that directly runs on Ezmeral,” said Sreekanti.

The machine learning operations for Ezmeral runs with the Kubernetes open source platform on the same hardware as the MapR file system. “What that does is give the customer the ability to get the best out of the whole organized stack from the top to the bottom,” said Sreekanti.

HPE designed Ezmeral from the get go as a “bold” next generation offering that is not tied to the old virtualization software paradigm, said Sreekanti. “When I invent a car I don’t bolt it to a horse drawn carriage,”he said. “The horse drawn carriage is a previous version. We run natively on bare metal. You don’t need to have any existing virtualization. You can run on virtualization. We have no problem doing that. But it’s unnecessary.”

HPE partners said Ezmeral brings together HPE’s increasing set of robust software offerings under a single brand aimed at driving a new era of intelligent applications.

With Ezmeral HPE is moving aggressively to provide the essential software that customers need to be successful in the future, said Erik Krucker, CTO at Comport Consulting, an HPE Platinum partner, No. 314 on the CRN Solution Provider 500

“HPE is going where customers want to be – not where they have been,” said Krucker. “HPE Is doing all the right things by bringing the different pieces of their software portfolio into a container platform. This is going to be a great competitive offering for us. I think it will do well. It is encouraging to see that HPE is moving in the direction the market is moving. They are trying to get ahead of the mainstream market. Customers don’t want to stay in the past. HPE continues to keep moving forward.”

Krucker said he expects HPE to deliver versions of Ezmeral in the future that will run on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud as HPE moves aggressively forward with its open source, multicloud container platform. “This gives customers the ability to have portable workloads with built in resilency for applications regardless of whether they are running on premise or in the cloud,” he said. “It gives customers the ability to deploy the workload where it makes the most sense. It’s definitely a huge shift for HPE in how they are developing a software portfolio.”

Krucker said Sreekanti – who has deep software roots including three years running R&D for VMware’s cloud infrastructure business – with making major gains in the HPE software charge. “HPE’s vision is clear: they want to provide everything as a service and they want to be more of a software company rather than just a pure hardware company,”h e said. “Kumar has brought some of that VMware lineage in software to HPE’s hardware innovation mindset. He has brought those two together. He’s shown some good leadership with this container software.”

Ezmeral opens the door for customers to “build modern applications” that can be run in either a cloud native or hybrid IT environment , said Dan Molina, chief technology officer for Nth Generation, San Diego, which was just named HPE’s as a service partner of the year this week. “It is very refreshing to see that HPE is investing in this next generation container software,” he said. “This gives our customers additional options. It’s is a very smart move by HPE. The timing is right for Ezmeral.”

Paul O’Dell, a director at CPP Associates, a Clinton, N.J. HPE Platinum partner which this week was named HPE Solution Provider of the year, said he expects Ezmeral to provide a big boost to CPP’s fast growing data intelligence practice.

“This is exciting,” he said. “It’s where the future of IT infrastructure is going. About 80 percent of all development within large enterprises is being done on containers. It is absolutely critical that CPP and HPE play in that market. We want to be at the cutting edge of where these next generation applications are being created. This is targeted at the sweet spot of what we are doing with our data intelligence practice. This is a nice rebranding of MapR and BlueData into a new software solution.”

CPP’s top technical talent have been impressed by both MapR and BlueData’s data intelligence functionality, said O’Dell. “We are big fans of what Kumar Sreekanti has done here,” he said. “We have built a whole practice around BlueData. What HPE is doing with Ezmeral is spot on. It’s all about delivering hybrid IT the way customers want it delivered. The company that can really make it easy for customers to shift workloads around is going to be the winner.”

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