HPE Names Compute Business Veteran Neil MacDonald To Head Up AI, High Performance Compute Charge
‘The relationship that Neil MacDonald has with Nvidia is going to help HPE continue to drive AI opportunities going forward,’ said C.R. Howdyshell, CEO of Advizex, a Fulcrum IT Partners company and a top HPE partner. ‘Nvidia is the AI leader, and that is not going to change. That is going to be key to HPE’s success.’
Neil MacDonald, a 28-year Hewlett Packard Enterprise veteran, has been tapped to head up the company’s high performance compute and AI business.
MacDonald, who takes the helm of the business on February 1, will also continue to lead the compute business, the Spring, Texas-based company saidTuesday.
The announcement of MacDondald’s appointment comes two weeks after HPE disclosed plans to step up its efforts to lead the AI networking revolution with its proposed $14 billion acquisition of Juniper Networks.
CRN reached out to MacDonald, who will now be executive vice president and general manager of both the compute business and the HPC and AI business, to discuss what HPE called his “expanded leadership role,” but he was unavailable for comment.
MacDonald replaces HPE HPC and AI General Manager Justin Hotard, a nine-year HPE veteran, who is taking over as the head of chip-maker Intel’s data center and AI group effective February 1.
Hotard had been leading HPE Labs, but now with the changing of the guard in the HPC and AI business those duties will move to HPE Chief Technology Officer Fidelma Russo.
As part of the change, MacDonald will continue to report to HPE CEO Antonio Neri, and each business segment, the HPC and AI group and the compute group, will continue to report its financial results independently.
“The HPC and AI business is critical to our ongoing strategy. Neil’s engineering background and expertise in silicon and AI, combined with his decades of proven leadership experience and passion for customer-driven innovation make him uniquely suited to lead this team,” said Neri in a prepared statement. “Neil’s technical acumen, vision and passion for advancing HPE’s unique IP in supercomputing, AI infrastructure technologies, and our AI software platform will strengthen the role we can play in our customers’ most critical transformations.”
Neri further pointed out that under MacDonald’s leadership, the compute business recently expanded its strategic collaboration with Nvidia to enhance HPE’s Compute portfolio and build a turnkey enterprise computing solution for GenAI.
Ties To Nvidia Will Be Critical
C.R. Howdyshell, CEO of Advizex, a Fulcrum IT Partners company and a top HPE partner, said MacDonald’s strong relationship with Nvidia will be key as HPE competes with rivals for hard-to-get Nvidia GPUs.
“The relationship that Neil MacDonald has with Nvidia is going to help HPE continue to drive AI opportunities going forward,” said Howdyshell. “Nvidia is the AI leader, and that is not going to change. That is going to be key to HPE’s success.”
MacDonald’s ability to forge tight relationships with top channel partners investing heavily in AI solutions is also going to be a critical success factor, said Howdyshell.
“The only way to scale that business is to lean on and engage with the channel,” said Howdyshell. “This isn’t about fulfillment. This is about partners like Fulcrum and Advizex investing in AI solutions.”
To that point, Fulcrum recently closed on the acquisition of an AI solutions high-flyer that has 50 data scientists on its team, said Howdyshell. “That is a big differentiator for Fulcrum and Advizex,” he said. “This gives us significant capabilities to help OEMs execute on AI. HPE is making some good moves here, but they are going to have to continue to make big investments in AI and the channel in order to keep pace with Dell [Technologies.]”
In fact, Howdyshell said, Dell and Nvidia have partnered with Advizex to grow the AI infrastructure market. Nvidia, in fact, has assigned Advizex a partner business manager to grow that business.
Kristin Major Gets New Role
Separately HPE said that Kristin Major, a 12-year HPE veteran who was chief talent officer, is taking the job of executive vice president and Chief People Officer, effective February 1.
Major, who has led human resources for HPE GreenLake, HPE Aruba Networking, the HPE Transformation Office, and the CTO, will also report to Neri.
“Having worked in several different parts of the business over the last 12 years, Kristin has strong relationships and a deep understanding of the needs and opportunities across the enterprise,” said Neri in a prepared statement. “Our team members love her, and she shares my passion for culture and creating an environment where our team members can thrive.”
Major replaces Alan May, who will remain with HPE to support the organizational integration of Juniper Networks. HPE expects to close the Juniper Networks deal in late calendar year 2024 or early 2025.
“That integration has to go extremely smooth in order for HPE to take advantage of the AI synergies, which is why I am sure HPE put Alan May in charge of that,” said Howdyshell. “May’s role will be key to that. Its also great to see HPE moving a rising star like Kristin Major to the Chief People officer role.”