Melkote: HPE's Integrated SD-WAN Platform Is A 'Massive' Opportunity For Partners

Keerti Melkote has seen the future, and it is built on an integrated cloud platform that includes fast, simple, secure SD-WAN designed to capitalize on what he considers one of the biggest opportunities of the next five years.

Melkote, Aruba co-founder and president of HPE's intelligent edge business, estimates that the market for SD-WAN solutions and services could reach $7 billion in the coming years, and partners stand to reap the benefits.

"For a partner, the opportunity is to bring it all together," Melkote said in an interview with CRN. "We see this as a huge opportunity beyond the box and being able to provide the actual service. For managed services partners in particular, it's a massive, massive opportunity."

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HPE Aruba is unveiling its SD-WAN solution this week at the company's annual Discover conference, and Melkote said the company developed its solution not as a product, but as part of a broader, integrated platform.

"What is unique about our SD-WAN solution is that it will be integrated with the infrastructure," Melkote said. "The LAN, the Wi-Fi, the WAN and security all coming together" with intelligent insight and context to help drive customers' business decisions.

Making SD-WAN a component of a wider platform -- including the company's ClearPass, Meridian, Cape Networks and NetInsight solutions -- Melkote said, allows customers to move more quickly toward the goal of efficiently and securely using data to transform their businesses.

"The uniqueness will be the data we are able to generate from the connected infrastructure giving customers insight into their network performance, business and security," Melkote said.

The strategy differentiates HPE Aruba from other major players in the SD-WAN space, including VMware and Cisco Systems, which within the last year acquired SD-WAN power players VeloCloud and Viptela, respectively.

"The goal is to make it simple to deploy," Melkote said. "The world is getting agile. Customers need to turn up a store very quickly in a new market. They want to move fast. Fast is key, and simplicity is key to that. Second is to ensure that it's super-secure. All your traffic is going to be not only on private lines, but it will be in a hybrid environment with private lines and the internet. When you're on the internet, you want to make sure security is paramount to any solution you create. The third piece is intelligence. That's ClearPass, Meridian, Cape, NetInsight all coming together on top of the solution."

SD-WAN is central to HPE's strategy, which emphasizes the importance of the network edge. The company is making a big bet on the edge, putting its focus on what it considers the greatest opportunity for itself and its partners.

In the most recent quarter, the intelligent edge business unit driven by HPE Aruba grew 17 percent to $710 million compared with $606 million in the year-ago quarter.

HPE CEO Antonio Neri told CRN that the intelligent edge represents a huge opportunity for HPE and its partners.

"The digital transformation really starts at the edge," he said. "Sixty-plus percent of the data is generated at the edge. Two years from now, we are going to have twice the amount of data we generated in human history."

Gary Berzack, COO of eTribeca, a New York-based solution provider that works with Aruba, said HPE's strategy of making SD-WAN a component of an integrated portfolio helps separate the company from the rest of the SD-WAN pack.

"Customers are giving up dedicated circuits and having optimization into the cloud, but it's a murky conversation," Berzack said, "because SD-WAN hasn't been defined well by the market. Lots of companies say they do SD-WAN. Do they have dedicated organizations that can do optimization? Do they have institutional knowledge to deliver? The challenge is coming out with the right feature set that supports corporate optimization in a multi-cloud environment."

That's precisely the position HPE Aruba is in, Melkote said, and the company's strategy already is catching the attention of customers.

"It's one of the single largest opportunities that we see over the next five years," Melkote said. "Our customers are all clamoring for a solution that brings it all together for them in a manner that doesn't bust their budgets, but yet gets them to the next-generation architecture. I think it's the right time for partners to jump in with a proposal and an architecture that helps them differentiate over time, as well. It's massive. We're making a big bet on it. That's the reason we're coming out in force with it at Discover."