HPE CEO Neri: Dell Doesn't Have An Edge Strategy And Has 'Not Been Innovating Anything'


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Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri on Wednesday singled out rival Dell EMC for coming up short on both intelligent edge strategy and innovation.

"Dell doesn't have an edge strategy," said Neri in a question as to how HPE's strategy is different than competitors."They don’t have connectivity. Force10 (Dell's networking offering) - I don't think does anything."

[Related:CEO Neri: HPE Investing $4 Billion To Accelerate Intelligent Edge Revolution]

Neri said Dell simply does not have the mobile-first, cloud-first muscle that HPE's Aruba brings to the intelligent edge. "Obviously they don't have what I call the vertical expertise when it comes down to that wireless aspect of it – the mobile-first, cloud-first approach," he said. "They don’t have any of that."

Neri also took aim at what he called Dell's failure to innovate as the $78 billion company has bulked up with the acquisition of EMC.

"Definitely they have a core large business," said Neri. "But so do we in many ways. But ultimately we have a long-term vision and innovation, which I think is going to change everything. Generally they have not been innovating anything."

A Dell spokesperson said the company has been aggressively investing in building out its open networking ecosystem over the last four years and is seeing strong customer acceptance of that strategy. Dell recently rolled out its Ready Stack solution, which combines networking with SD-WAN.

Neri's throwdown came at HPE's  Discover 2018 conference with the company unleashing a blizzard of innovation including a new Aruba Software Defined SD-Branch solution, the ability to run unmodified enterprise applications like SAP HANA on HPE Edgeline Converged Systems and a GreenLake pay-per-use hybrid cloud that that combines on-premises private cloud with AWS, Microsoft Azure and Azure Stack.

During his first Discover keynote address as CEO, Neri also committed to investing $4 billion over the next four years to accelerate HPE's intelligent edge innovation charge.

"We will accelerate our investment in R & D to advance and innovate new (intelligent edge) products, services and consumption models across a number of domains including connectivity, security, edge computing, automation, machine learning and AI," said Neri. "It will be an edge that is intelligent and cloud enabled."

In an interview with CRN last week, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell  pointed to his company's $4 billion R&D budget as a major competitive advantage for customers looking for software defined innovation. In fact, Dell said that close to 90 percent of the engineers at Dell Technologies are focused on software defined.

"There's a ton of innovation that goes into these products and solutions – it's increasingly software," said Dell. "When you include VMware, Pivotal and the whole family, I think it's actually closer to 90 percent of the engineers focused on software at Dell Technologies. There's no question that there's a ton of innovation. The new requirements that we're constantly seeing  from customers requires a substantial investment. We're investing aggressively against those requirements. Customers are responding very positively to that."

John Barker, co-founder and CEO of Versatile, an HPE Platinum partner and one of Aruba's top partners, said Aruba's mobile, cloud-first software charge with Clearpass secure network access and Introspect machine learning has given HPE a major competitive advantage at the edge.

"Aruba is a crown jewel that allows us to have a more strategic, elevated discussion with customers," said Barker. "We are talking about what are the problems the customer is having and how do we provide the correct solution. Aruba's ability to continue on its very strategic technological path has been a big advantage for HPE. We saw that with the SD-Branch solution that was just announced"

Barker said he does not see Dell competing head-to-head with Aruba at the edge. "With Aruba , we are gaining market share and getting attention," he said. "There's a great security and cloud management story with Aruba. Those are hot buttons for customers that just do not have enough of their own resources to manage this stuff. It is making a big difference in accounts. We are winning with Aruba."

Barker also complimented Neri for making complementary, innovative technology acquisitions around high value products like SimpliVity and Nimble that are helping to drive forward the intelligent edge computing vision. "The value products that HPE has is the differentiator between the two companies," he said.

Barker said he sees HPE's intelligent edge innovation as a major differentiator for HPE and its partners. "Our future is at the edge," he said. "That is where the number one opportunity is for us to provide solutions with our own services especially with our healthcare practice."

Neri, for his part, said HPE has "an edge to cloud vision of the future" that separates it from not only Dell but all competitors including low-priced Chinese competitors.

"Ultimately what customers are going to buy is a solution that delivers value – not just technology- the value that they need and ultimately an experience that comes with it," said Neri. "And it is not just economics."

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