Government Game Changer: How HPE GreenLake Cut Storage Costs By 42% For A California County

‘These are hard dollars that we saved,’ says Mac Avancena, chief information officer for Kern County, who was grappling with storage costs that were rising at a 40 percent annual clip before moving to the HPE GreenLake on premise cloud pay-per-use service. “Part of the reason we were able to do this is because we finally put some guardrails around our consumption.”


A four-year multimillion dollar deal that moved one of the largest counties in California to Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s GreenLake Cloud services platform has resulted in a 42 percent reduction in storage costs, said Mac Avancena, chief information officer for Kern County.

Besides the cost savings, HPE’s game changing edge to cloud platform as a service provided Kern County with 63 percent additional storage capacity as a result of implementing a next-generation hyperconverged tiered GreenLake storage solution, said Avancena, the driving force behind the county’s IT makeover.

“These are hard dollars that we saved,” said Avancena, who was grappling with storage costs that were rising at a 40 percent annual clip before moving to the HPE GreenLake on premise cloud pay-per-use service. “Part of the reason we were able to do this is because we finally put some guardrails around our consumption.”

Sponsored post

Under the GreenLake model, Kern County has provided its 41 departments a rate card with a fixed annual cost and allocation of basic compute and storage services. If the county departments exceed the annual allocation they are billed for the overages. “This gives us a fighting chance to be ahead of the curve with how we measure and manage (storage) demand,” said Avancena.

GreenLake essentially provided the means for Kern County to act as an IT service broker, centralizing and standardizing “commodity” compute and storage as a precursor to look at driving increased innovaton for county government. Previously each department essentially was its own IT provider with little visibility into usage or cost. “It didn’t make sense for us to have variations for basic utility services for IT,” said Avancena.

The ultimate economic impact, in fact, goes beyond cost savings with the aim of driving innovative next-generation IT services for the county’s one million constituents, said Avancena. “This was also an opportunity for us to embrace innovation.” he said. “What this is doing is giving time back to the business to solve business problems. That is going to be the bigger benefit.”

The next generation GreenLake cloud service – which incorporated 3Par, Nimble and HPE hyperconverged servers- provided the county with a next generation IT solution that in a traditional on premise capital expenditure model would have cost anywhere from $5 million to $10 million.

“That’s the beauty of these types of elastic solutions,” said Avancena, who has brought a fiery passion for driving improved government services to Kern County. “This is the future from my perspective as a government leader, knowing we were handcuffed, having to go to the board of supervisors for capital expenditures. This is a really interesting bridge for us to modernize our (IT) footprint and to lift our ecosystem to next generation platforms and tools and still be cost conscientious and responsible.”

The deal- which was signed in the fourth quarter last year- ended up being a critical factor in the county’s ability to increase its Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) capability to provide for work at home capabilities for government employees in the midst of the global pandemic.

Avancena, a 28-year IT veteran with an MBA, knew when he took the CIO job in June 2018 that he had to get a handle on out of control IT costs. So he set to work immediately on rationalizing the county government’s technology stack. That’s when he turned to long-time partners HPE and solution provider Nth Generation, San Diego, which was recently named HPE GreenLake service partner of the year.

Avancena – a former top IT executive for NBCUniversal Media who moved to the county CIO job because of the demands of a California to New York worklife along with a commitment to his wife to put down deeper roots in Kern County - said he was impressed from the outset with the “trusted relationship” with HPE and Nth Generation, No. 297 on the CRN SP500.

“There are very few companies out there today that are as deep and as wide as HPE when it comes to their overall solutions and their overall services offerings,” he said. “We looked at some competitors but at the end of the day because we already had a trusted relationship with HPE and Nth, it just made a lot more sense for us to stay where we were and expand our offerings to leverage GreenLake going forward.”

Key to the GreenLake model is the trusted strategic partnership with HPE and Nth Generation, working hand in hand with county government to solve business problems and develop next generation IT solutions, said Avancena. “I really think government is hungry for this and is looking for next generation thought leadership,” he said.

The GreenLake platform provides Kern County with a standardized heterogenous IT compute and storage environment. “There is a true cost savings around efficiencies, standardization and partnership,” said Avancena. “That’s where the HPE-Nth Generation relationship clicked all the boxes.”

The GreenLake platform also guarantees a “single throat to choke” IT support model, said Avancena. “HPE understands my compute, storage and network because they are leveraged,” he said. “They have a seat at the table when it comes to how we are looking at solving our business problems and developing next generation strategies for our business.”

As for the power of the Nth Generation relationship, Avancena said the “secret sauce” is the trust that forms the foundation of the partnership. “They also have a seat at my leadership table,” he said. “That’s really important because first and foremost it is a relationship we are investing in. They are invested in us and are genuinely focused on helping us being a forward thinking modern government service provider. That customer intimacy is really the key glue that makes businesses successful. Nth allows me to be focused on the voice of my business and customer. They are the backend helping to frame and design solutions based on my business problems. It’s a very symbiotic and healthy relationship and one I am very proud and honored to be part of.”

Nth Generation, for its part, has nominated Kern County for the Nth Generation Client Excellence award for visionary IT leadership. “This is really breaking new ground in government IT,” said Rich Baldwin, chief strategy officer and chief information officer for Nth, speaking about the Kern County GreenLake solution. “A lot of government agencies have not looked at this kind of model. This has been a shining star for us. Mac has really put this on the map for all his government peers. He really hit it out of the park. It has gone so well that it is building momentum in the county. It’s saving them tons of money and giving them a better solution than what they had before.”

Baldwin credited the financial flexibility provided by HPE Financial Services, and the strong partnership with HPE as key to winning the Kern County deal. “HPE was just super helpful in making it happen,” he said.

The Kern County deal is just one more sign of the increasing sales momentum behind GreenLake, said Baldwin, who expects Nth’s GreenLake sales to be up as much as 30 percent this year. “Everybody wants to buy as a service, all subscription based,” he said. “We’ve had nothing but happy customers with GreenLake. No one is going back. They are adding more cloud services and telling their friends. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

GreenLake consistently stacks up as more cost-effective than public cloud in head to head price comparisons, said Baldwin. “Everybody thinks they are going to save money when they go to public cloud, but you end up being nickeled and dimed on so many different metrics,” he said. “Customers often don’t realize all the ways they are going to be charged for bandwidth, the amount of data and the amount of compute with public cloud. The numbers always come back much higher than people think.”

GreenLake, meanwhile, is enabling customers to carefully monitor and control IT costs, said Baldwin. “We are providing the customers peace of mind,” he said.”They know us and our engineers will get it done for for them.”

The 17 percent upfront commission on the GreenLake deals combined with the recurring revenue annuity model is reshaping the channel landscape, said Baldwin. “We are going all in with GreenLake,” he said. “We’re building the annuity business for the future.”

HPE CEO Antonio Neri’s everything as a service commitment over the last several years has been a channel game changer, said Baldwin. “I thank Antonio for this,” he said. “He had the vision. HPE is years ahead of competitors with GreenLake. He said HPE would provide everything as a service by 2022 and HPE is on track for that. We have got a bright future because of him. I love the guy!”

HPE Senior Vice President and GreenLake Cloud Services General Manager Keith White, for his part, said he sees the Kern County deal as a classic case of a “visionary” IT thought leader bringing commercial innovation to the public sector.

“Mac was looking for a partner,” said White. “He was not looking for a vendor or someone to transact with him. He was looking for someone to be deeply responsible for him and his problems. With Nth and our GreenLake managed services we have provided him a team that is working for him to help move things forward.”

The ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made GreenLake an even more compelling solution, said White. “We have been dealing with a number of counties across the US where we have been able to put in place infrastructure quickly in response to COVID-19,” he said. “That’s why GreenLake is so powerful.”

GreenLake adoption among public sector customers is on the rise in the wake of COVID-19. “We’ve seen significant uptick in the public sector space which has been really exciting,” he said. “Everytime you help public sector you feel like you are helping your community.”

VDI has also been a big GreenLake driver because of security, compliance and regulatory issues, said White. “GreenLake VDI provides a secure desktop outside of the firewall,” he said.

Ultimately the GreenLake model is moving the channel from a transactional to a solutions model that is driving partner sales growth, said White. “They are developing a much deeper relationship with customers,” he said. “It’s a longer term relationship. Then it becomes much less about the deal and much more about the customer.”

White said he sees channel partners as a huge competitive advantage in the GreenLake pay-per-use go-to-market model. “I view the channel as an extension of our broader team,” he said. “They are an extension of our salesforce and our Pointnext organization. Everything we do to enable our field, we do with the channel as well…It’s the we (HPE and the partner) that has to go to the customer and help them be successful. It is one team-one dream. That gets us to the customer solution faster. We see it as a win-win for everyone.”