HPE CEO Antonio Neri: Dell Apex ‘Is VMware—It’s Not Dell’

Neri says that the early version of the Dell Apex solution doesn’t offer as broad of a set of as-a-service solutions as HPE’s GreenLake offering, and is predominantly built around the VMware control plane.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri says that the initial version of Dell’s Apex as-a-service portfolio is essentially a VMware offering, and does not bring as broad of a selection of as-a-service solutions as HPE’s GreenLake offering.

Neri spoke Tuesday at the 2021 Best of Breed (BoB) Conference in Atlanta, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company. The HPE president and CEO (pictured center) made the comments about Dell Apex in response to questions from Robert Faletra (pictured left), executive chairman of The Channel Company, and Steven Burke (pictured right), editor news at CRN.

[Related: HPE CEO Antonio Neri To ‘Personally Lead’ Initiative To Boost GreenLake Experience]

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HPE GreenLake, which offers an as-a-service, pay-per-use model for consumption of on-premises infrastructure, debuted in mid-2018, while Dell Apex launched into general availability in May.

When asked by Burke what the difference is between Dell Apex and HPE GreenLake, Neri said that Dell Apex is “only one thing.”

“In fact, the entire experience that you see in the early version of it is VMware—it’s not Dell,” Neri said. “And so, what they’re doing is trying to build around the VMware control plane—all the analytics and the metering and so forth. But they are focused on one thing and one thing only, which is simplicity. But they’re not having the sophistication of a broad portfolio.”

By contrast, “when we think about edge to cloud, we think about everything the customer needs around connectivity, cloud and data—not just one thing,” Neri said.

In a statement provided to CRN by email on Tuesday, Dell said that “we’re focused on our customers, partners and Dell Technologies’ business, and we like the hand we hold.”

Dell Technologies owns an 81-percent stake in VMware, but is planning to spin off the company in November.

Without a doubt, HPE GreenLake has a head start on other competing solutions in the market and brings some key differentiators, solution providers told CRN.

“They’re ahead of the competition” on as-a-service, said C.R. Howdyshell, president of Cleveland-based Advizex. The HPE Platinum Partner is now generating 40 percent of its HPE revenue via GreenLake, up from 20 percent a year ago.

Along with having a first-mover advantage with its as-a-service approach, HPE GreenLake offers a “powerful” capability in bringing in best-of-breed technologies such as Nutanix, Cohesity, Qumulo and Rubrik as part of the solution, Howdyshell said.

Brandon Lockhart, director of emerging technologies at Iron Bow Technologies, an HPE Platinum Partner based in Herndon, Va., said that GreenLake is “the most comprehensive consumption model” currently available for on-prem infrastructure.

“When you look at HPE GreenLake, that could be your data center, your edge, your compute platform, your storage platform, your backup platform. So it’s kind of encompassing everything,” Lockhart said. “Being able to grab them from one vendor and keep up to date with all those technologies is where the benefit is over the other programs out there.”

John Kolimago, executive vice president and general manager at Anexinet, an HPE Platinum Partner based in Blue Bell, Pa., said that HPE has not only led the way on offering an as-a-service model for on-prem infrastructure with GreenLake, but has kept up a strong pace of innovation.

With the GreenLake platform, “they continue to innovate in advance of what the marketplace is doing, as compared to other vendors,” Kolimago said.

The innovation pace is not expected to slow down anytime soon, as “GreenLake is the future of HPE,” Neri said on Tuesday. “And I think it’s the future for our partners too.”

For HPE’s fiscal third quarter, ended July 31, the company posted strong GreenLake results with a 46-percent increase in as-a-service orders.

Still, Neri said he believes GreenLake can grow “way faster.” To help accelerate the growth, Neri said he is personally leading an effort to boost the partner and customer experience around GreenLake, including improving the sales process and speeding up deals.

“We’ve got to complete these transitions—particularly on the process side, pricing side, and making it frictionless,” he said.