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HPE CEO Antonio Neri: Dell Doesn't Have ‘An Edge’ Strategy

‘The difference between us and Dell is very simple: We have an edge to cloud strategy. They don’t have an edge,’ says HPE CEO Antonio Neri.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri says his company has a "totally opposite" technology strategy compared with rival Dell Technologies.

"The difference between us and Dell is very simple: We have an edge to cloud strategy. They don’t have an edge," said Neri during his keynote presentation at The Channel Company's 2018 Best of Breed Conference Tuesday. "Now they talk about edge. It's amazing to me when I was looking at the presentation they gave for their IPO discussion—they talk about edge, but they don’t have an edge."

Neri said while Dell Technologies’ strategy is to get "bigger scale," HPE wants to become smaller, leaner and more focused. "The reality is, what customers want is fast innovation and simple architectures they can deploy, not a complex portfolio," he said. "That's why through HPE Next, we have done a remarkable job in simplifying our platforms, focusing on fewer things, making it better, but then continue to bring that innovation that keeps us ahead."

[Related: VMware's Pat Gelsinger: 'I Want To Disrupt Everything About The Security Market']

HPE's enterprise technology strategy is going to be "edge-centric, cloud-enabled and data-driven," said Neri on stage in front of over 120 solution providers. "That's why Hewett Packard Enterprise is really focusing on providing edge to cloud architectures with obviously the right infrastructure, the right software, the right services and the right consumption models around that."

Dell declined to comment on the matter.

Neri was questioned about HPE's relationship with VMware as the virtualization leader is majority-owned by Dell Technologies. The CEO said it didn't matter because VMware needs HPE as a strategic partner and must continue to be vendor-agnostic.

"We have a good partnership, [VMware CEO] Pat [Gelsinger] and I. We have a good relationship. They realize they need us," said Neri. "For Pat, being independent and agnostic is what he needs, otherwise he's not going to be successful."

Partners agree that HPE's investment in the edge is providing the channel with more customer opportunities.

"They're having a more end-to-end conversation that can really go out and compete, especially from the edge side, even from a Cisco perspective," said Larry Van Deusen, director of wired and wireless networking business for Dimension Data, an HPE partner ranked No. 8 on CRN's 2018 Solution Provider 500 list.

Van Deusen said Aruba, an HPE company, is now bringing in large enterprise deals thanks to having end-to-end solutions alongside HPE, which has driven Dimension Data's HPE sales to nearly double in 2018.

"They are really trying to differentiate themselves and become a more end-to-end IT infrastructure company. That's the advantage they have now. They've taken some of the nimbleness of the culture of Aruba Networks that's now permeated into the HPE environment," said Van Deusen.

Michael Lomonaco, director of marketing and communications for Open Systems Technologies, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based HPE partner, said the vendor has been successfully partnering with other companies like Microsoft to create a powerful edge strategy.

"They're having success in their investments with the Azure stack and Microsoft, which is really driving toward the intelligent edge, the cloud and the data side. It's been refreshing to see them gravitate towards that and to put billions of dollars in investment in those product, tools, capabilities and services around that," said Lomonaco. "Then they're really working close with the channel to bring those to market."

Terry McGill, managing partner of Pegasus Technology Solutions, a Frisco, Texas-based HPE partner and 2018 CRN Triple Crown winner, said HPE's data-driven focus at the edge is "a huge opportunity" for Pegasus.

"The amount of data that's going to be driven at the edge is huge. Antonio rearchitecting the strategy so that the data is the core and you're going to build compute around it means in essence the data is going to be the heartbeat. We're aligning with them with that strategy," said McGill. "Then HPE allowing partners to include our turnkey services inside a consumption model funded through GreenLake—that's great for our margins. It's a big deal for us."

In regard to the channel, Neri hailed partners as being the driving force behind the company's long-term and future success. "This company has been built on partners like the ones here in the room. And this has been, and continues to be, a partner-first company. Period, end of story," he said.

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