Antonio Neri’s 10 Boldest Statements From Best Of Breed Virtual 2020

HPE CEO Antonio Neri sounded off on everything from competitors ‘copying’ HPE’s long-standing Everything-as-a-Service strategic initiative to Aruba’s edge computing advantage over rival Cisco and his partner pledge that HPE has been, is and ‘will continue to be a channel-led company.’


Competitors Copying HPE

Hewlett Packard Enterprise President and CEO Antonio Neri told BoB Virtual Conference attendees that competitors “copying” HPE’s Everything-as-a-Service lead will have a hard time matching HPE’s software prowess.

“All our competitors are copying us,” Neri said in a Zoom chat with The Channel Company’s Executive Chairman Robert Faletra and Editor News Steven Burke. “I mean there is one in particular that just announced they will offer Everything as a Service. Well, I would argue it’s not as simple as that. You need to have the software to deliver that experience.”

Among the software innovation that HPE has brought to bear in recent months to bring a new age of data insight to customers is HPE Ezmeral, an open mulit-cloud platform to modernize applications that can be run and moved seamlessly from the edge to the data center to the public cloud, and new standardized GreenLake pay-per-use “building block” offerings for small, midsize and large businesses.

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The Ezmeral sales offensive comes with HPE doubling down on software innovation to power a new era of edge to cloud Platform-as-a-Service growth. That investment includes increased R&D around HPE software with 8,300-plus software engineers now working on the HPE next-generation software stack.

Neri pledged that HPE will continue to accelerate its software innovation offensive, making it difficult for competitors to catch up.

“We will continue to add capabilities that will sustain margin and add more value for our partners,” he said. “And that’s hard to imitate, to be honest with you. So for me, it’s about driving scale, adding more value and to keep innovating faster than ever before.”

Here are Neri’s 10 boldest statements from the BoB Conference.

Copying Won’t Cut It: HPE’s Everything-As-A-Service Software Advantage

It’s kind of interesting, if you think about what has happened here in the last few months, is all our competitors are copying us. I mean there is one in particular that just announced they will offer Everything as a Service. Well, I would argue it’s not as simple as that. You need to have the software to deliver that experience. And that’s why we made a significant set of announcements at Discover in June [including HPE Ezmeral and GreenLake standardized building blocks for small, midsize and large businesses].

We will continue to add capabilities that will sustain margin and add more value for our partners. And that’s hard to imitate, to be honest with you. So for me, it’s about driving scale, adding more value and to keep innovating faster than ever before.

For me, this is all about delivering a differentiated experience. It is all about delivering value to our customers that they are willing to pay for, obviously because we are reducing cost, or we’re improving their operations, or we are making them more resilient. Whatever is the value in the end. And that’s why we will never stop innovating on the offering.

Beating Cisco At The Edge

So where do we think we have the right to compete and win? The edge, no question about it. I think we have a phenomenal set of technologies and experiences for this new digital world and digital economy. So I will ask our channel partners to come along. Because Aruba is an incredible technology platform, and a great contender to the incumbent, which is Cisco. And we see that more and more. But we have a more complementary vision and a better architecture, fully integrated to deliver against those objectives.

To me, the edge is the next frontier. It is easier to move the cloud to where the data is, not the data to where the cloud is. It is just economics and physics. And this is where our commitment is to continue to evolve that edge services platform, which we call Aruba Central, so that you can drive a subscription model. So the customers will be on the platform and you will own that customer for a long time, so you can keep adding services along the way.

Catching The Consumption Wave With GreenLake

We know that the more than a third of the market will be in a consumption-driven model in the next three years. Part of that is the public cloud, but also part is the on-prem [opportunity]. And that’s where with HPE GreenLake Cloud Services we bring the cloud to you. And we can do it together with our partners.

And the partners can add their own services on top of that platform because obviously we make APIs [application programming interfaces] available for them to write their own catalog of services. But everything else that comes in the platform is all done for you and automated. So you don’t have to spend cycles and time managing the operations.

If you believe a third of the market will be consumed as a service, you’ve got to participate in that opportunity. And we have a unique point of differentiation with GreenLake.

We are providing both the business model and the technology innovation to consume Everything as a Service. And that’s where I’m super excited about our vision to become the edge-to-cloud Platform-as-a-Service company. Our customers and partners tell us we have absolutely the right vision. But I’m going to be only as successful as my innovation and my partners coming along. And that’s where we’re putting all our emphasis to bring forward that [Everything-as-a-Service] customer relationship faster than ever before, and to make it easy for our channels to grow and scale with us in a profitable way.

A Data-Driven Future: A New Age Of Insight

I think from a technology standpoint the future will be all data-driven. The fact of the matter is the technology has to be there to enable this new age of insights. The 2020 era is all about data, but data without insights means nothing. As we discussed before, we see the data curve outpacing the processing curve. But we have to be able to extract insights because ultimately data is the new currency in this new digital economy, and those who can extract it faster will be the winners.

And that’s where whatever architecture you’re talking about, it is all about managing that data and processing that data to get insights much faster than ever before. So that’s why we are moving to more data-driven type of architectures. … Even at the networking level you’re going to see way more processing power move into the network because you can process data at the speed it comes along.

And then technologies like AI will be sitting on top of it. So it will become autonomous and way more intelligent. So it’s very exciting. For the engineering community out there this is like a dream come true. But, let’s not forget what I said earlier: We’ve got to do it in an inclusive way and we have to do it in a very ethical way. Because ultimately, if you don’t apply this new technology in the right way, you may get to the wrong outcomes. And this is where companies like us have a tremendous responsibility, which we should not forget about.

HPE’s Compute And Storage Vision: Nothing Less Than The Best

In compute and storage you should expect from us nothing less than the best set of technology— faster, cheaper, better. But you’re going to see, the way we’re going to provision those resources is going to be more in a cloud-native way. Even in storage, where we talk about hyperconverged. We have a better view of that, which is the disaggregated hyperconverged infrastructure with Nimble and the ability to provision both the compute and the storage in a cloud-native way, from the software layer, not at an appliance level.

That’s where I think HPE can bring it all together with connectivity, security, analytics from the edge to on-prem or in a colo [colocation data center] and then manage the entire hybrid experience, including the public cloud, using HPE GreenLake Cloud Services.

If you are a high-performance computing partner, you know our portfolio is second to none. We are the market leader and we are bringing tremendous technologies that eventually we are moving into the commercial space.

HPE is the only company that’s going to build Exascale systems that are able to process 1 billion, 1 billion [or a quintillion] transactions per second in these systems. It’s just unbelievable. But we’re going to take those technologies and make it available in a scale-out architecture over a period of time. AI and machine learning are essential to succeed in the future.

HPE’s Digital Marketing Advantage

Well, first of all, I give credit to our CMO [Chief Marketing Officer], Jim Jackson (pictured), who was a visionary about this. He started this journey more than two years ago. And then over time he has pivoted to digital marketing more and more. And he has given us not only the platform, but the focus to be very precise as to where to spend our dollars and where to drive demand against our solutions. And then ultimately create an ecosystem with our partners so we can be effective in managing those leads.

What we are committing to our partners is not only giving them the leads, but giving them the insight about the opportunity and how to get it closed faster than before. It’s not about ‘Hey, I have an opportunity, please go talk to this person’. No, it’s let me give you an opportunity; this is the type of workload they are doing; here is the reference architecture; here is the pricing model. All packaged in a way so that partners can go close it, because now you are bringing the partner expertise and the credibility, and their own solutions that they can bring on top of it to get it done.

When you use AI and integrate that into the digital marketing side it is to get even more finite in everything we do. But ultimately, you can’t replace 100 percent of what the humans do. But the humans will become way more effective and way more intelligent about it.

HPE Ezmeral: Eliminating Virtualization Costs

The fact is there is a more modern and more effective way to run workloads on-premises. And that is by taking advantage of these cloud-native architectures and by simplifying all the cost that’s in the middle. We believe with HPE Ezmeral we have the ability to run both the legacy apps and the cloud-native apps without paying all that middleware in the virtualization of the infrastructure.

Ezmeral is able to run both stateful and stateless applications on bare-metal solutions, so you don’t have to pay for the cost of virtualizing anything. So you can run the legacy and the container versions of the workloads.

Also, at the same time, because everything’s automated, we can reduce Opex by 50 percent because we have technologies like BlueData storage and HPE InfoSight, where we use AI and predictive techniques to solve those problems. And last but not least, you also run these data-intensive workloads, which ultimately requires a very scalable data fabric from the edge to cloud. And that’s because of our acquisition of MapR. We brought all these set of technologies together in an integrated stack with HPE Ezmeral.

HPE’s AI Advantage

AI is quite an interesting set of technologies. We use it to make our solutions more autonomous and intelligent. We use it to provide a better experience in the way we do business with our customers and partners. And obviously we use it to extract insights from data.

In the infrastructure space, we actually use it to automate everything. So we can reduce Opex, which means we can solve problems before they happen so that customers don’t have to put people in place to manage infrastructure. The technology is self-driving. And we have proven that we can solve 86 percent of the problems before customers even know about a failure.

In the case of HPE Primera, which is the most intelligent data platform on the planet, we actually guarantee 100 percent availability because we have AI built into the core operating system.

And obviously we use AI for security. A great example is how [Aruba founder and President of HPE Intelligent Edge] Keerti [Melkote] and his team drive the Aruba platform with AI.

We are also using AI to actually mine our own installed base [with HPE InfoSight] and understand how the entire installed base is performing. And then we come back with recommendations to customers to either to upgrade, to add increased capacity or to put actually quotes in the hands of our partners, or our own people, to go say there is an opportunity to move customers to the next generation, because either the type of workload they are running or of the type of infrastructure is probably a little bit old, we should upgrade. And that set of technologies is fully automated in our quote-to-cash system. … Basically, I have visibility of my entire installed base, and I can point the partner in the right direction to pursue a new opportunity.

Aruba Central’s 5G Advantage

From my perspective, it’s very, very exciting. And that’s why we have taken 5G and integrated it into our Aruba control plane because the reality is 5G will coexist with all the other multiprotocol connectivity aspects of it. And we see an opportunity between 5G and Wi-Fi to create private LTE networks.

But ultimately it’s going to be very vertical-driven and very use-case-driven. Obviously on the manufacturing side we’re going to see the explosion of IoT devices as manufacturing moves from the analog to the digital world. And we already have multiple solutions. Think about health care or the refinery of the future where connectivity and edge computing come together in ways we haven’t thought of before. But that actually creates more data. And the ability to process data at the point of creation is going to be essential because latency compliance and security are going to be big, big aspects we have to deal with.

So that to me is the opportunity for partners, And we have some great partners, like [CBT founder and CEO] Kelly Ireland and her team who have taken an early approach to IoT. So I think this is all about the explosion of things around the ecosystem.

Today, we have billions of apps and data. Tomorrow we’re going to have trillions of things. And let’s not forget, every day we add 14 million new devices to the network. So we live in a hyperconnected world. But 5G will create a new set of experiences and new use cases. And that where we have to become way more use-case-centric in that approach. But we have to give it to the partners in a platform-oriented approach.

And that’s why I’m so excited with our Aruba Central platform where we already have 65,000 customers on it. We have scaled it for the IoT era and we have more than a million devices on it under management and growing every single quarter. Our commitment to our partners is to give a unified AI-driven experience at the platform level.

HPE’s Cultural Advantage: A Channel-Led Company

Well, for me, as a CEO, culture is everything. You need to stand for a purpose. And as you know, our purpose is very clear: it’s to enhance the way people live and work. I think that’s our North Star. That’s why we get up every day—to make a contribution. And the way we do that is by engineering experiences that unlock the full potential of people.

And we do that with four core beliefs in mind. One is we believe in accelerating what is next. The next opportunity is always here in front of us and we do it faster. Because ultimately, time is everything. The future belongs to the fast. That’s what we have said over and over again.

The second core belief is we believe in bold moves. Only people who have the courage to take risks will advance.

The third belief is we believe in the power of ‘Yes We Can.’ I’m an optimist by design. I grew up in a very diverse environment, grew up in different countries. And despite the fact that 2020 has been a tough year I am more optimistic than ever. Because I can see the potential of applying technology to solve some of the biggest societal problems.

And last on the list is we believe in being a force for good. Ultimately, we’re all human beings and if we don’t help communities improve we are failing. It’s not just about the business. That’s why I’m proud to work for a company that has Hewlett and Packard in the brand, because that’s the root of who we are. And we do it with uncompromising integrity every day, and we have values around partner, innovate and act.

Think about it. The first word is ‘partner’ and here we are. We’re talking about partners at the Best of Breed Confidence. We have been, we are and we will continue to be a channel-led company. Period. End of story. That’s who we are. And that has been my commitment since day one. And this is where we are because we alone cannot solve all the problems. And by the way, the partners and us together, we can do some amazing things.