HPE’s Keith White: Dell’s Cloud ‘Can’t Compete’ With GreenLake

HPE GreenLake Cloud Services Business Group General Manager Keith White says that rival Dell simply cannot match GreenLake’s pay-per-use, public cloud-like experience.


A Better Pay Per Use Model For Partners

Hewlett Packard Enterprise GreenLake Cloud Services Business Group General Manager Keith White said the new portfolio of GreenLake building blocks for small, medium and large businesses beats rival Dell’s cloud model for partners hands down.

“We have turned this into a much more pay-per-use, scalable and basically all managed-for-you scenario,” said White, the former Microsoft cloud superstar who joined HPE just seven months ago and has already driven big advances in the HPE cloud services channel model. “We basically have taken the public cloud and we have brought it to you on-premises. So we are bringing the cloud to you, if you will. Dell just can’t compete on that end.”

HPE’s robust metering capabilities – which includes VMware virtual machines – allow partners to track storage and virtual machine usage by the hour, said White.

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“We have the ability to only charge customers for what they are using, versus Dell, which offers more of a leasing type, ‘here is the car payment’ scenario,” said White. “So in essence we are really giving customers the cloud experience they require.”

White’s comments came as HPE Tuesday made a “huge leap forward” in the pay-per-use channel battle with a move from a bespoke customized model to a standardized group of 17 “building block” offerings for small, medium and large businesses.

The breakthrough opens the door to shorten the sales cylce from what was as long as six months to just 14 days from price quote to delivery, according to HPE.

“This is really built for the channel,” said White. “This gives them much more standardized opportunities to deliver these services such as virtual machines or containers or machine learning type capabilities depending on what they want to deliver to their customer set. It gives them that flexibility today.”

How big a breakthrough is it for GreenLake to move from a bespoke model to 17 standardized small, medium and large packaged offerings?

We think it is significant. This is a huge step forward for us. If you think about all of the challenges that customers have in delivering solutions to their customers, we just have dramatically simplified that time to value, that time to market and frankly that opportunity to start to really help customers solve challenges.

We think for partners this is a huge step forward, and for our customers it is a significant step forward as well.

So if you step back and think about it, partners are in a situation where they want to get the solutions into the customers’ hands as quickly as possible. What this does is it lets them sort of narrow down the surface area, but it is all highly optimized for that specific use case and for that customer situation. So they get to deliver the best of the best that is complete, secure and fully integrated to their customer in as little as 14 days.

What is the call to action to partners to sell this and make sure it is easy for customers?

There are three things I would love for partners to do. The first is to continue to really push forward on what is that customer challenge. What is the problem the customer is trying to solve, what is the solution they are looking for and really deeply understand the workload or the solution as our customers go through their digital transformation and their modernization efforts.

No. 2 is leverage the tools we are providing. We now provide a tool called Quick Quote that basically lets them pick and choose these different building block components, choose the services that are required and that provides a quote to them very quickly. So we have a great tool for them to be able to utilize.

Third is really ensure they understand that customer need in-depth so that they can get that solution out to them very quickly. So understand what the challenge is, make sure they are using the tools that we require and then make sure that they deliver that quickly to the customer using these standard building blocks for these great new cloud service solutions that we have.

Will the 17 standardized offerings go through distribution?

Because we are pre-building these capabilities at the factory in North America, Europe and in Asia we have these ready to go for our distribution partners. So they are ready to take these configurations on in small, medium and large T-Shirt size-type scenarios and they are able to deliver those quickly to their customers.

This is really built for the channel. This gives them much more standardized opportunities to deliver these services such as virtual machines or containers or machine learning capabilities depending on what they want to deliver to their customer set. It gives them that flexibility today. So we are really excited about that.

I was on the phone with [Senior Vice President Strategy Innovation Cloud and M&A] Sergio [Farache] at Tech Data. He was just excited about what we are doing, what we are delivering and how we can partner more and work together. I am hearing great feedback from the partners already.

There are 17 building block packages. What are the sweet spots for each of the small, medium and large offers?

I think there are a couple that are going to be super interesting to folks. No. 1, I think from a storage standpoint you are going to see the business critical [module]—which is really our core storage offering, the midsized storage configuration—be super powerful. So I think that is going to be one of our best sellers.

The second one that folks are really excited about is the private cloud offering on the virtual machines component because you have 70 percent of applications and data still sitting on-prem. So people want to move that and take that into their modernized data center with these new configurations, so I think that private cloud which is really the medium and large size on the VM side of the house.

Then, frankly, the world is turning to containers, so we think that medium and large container platforms will be the next big one as well. You are going to get the capability to containerize your environment. You are going to get the opportunity to really have a unified platform for cloud native and non-cloud native applications, persistent storage for stateful apps and this is all enterprise-grade from a security and a control standpoint.

So I think those are the three to five that will be super popular with our customers and through the channel.

How do these offers stack up against competitors like Dell VMware?
We do use VMware for our virtual machine capability today, so in essence we are providing that full suite that the customer is after that they require from that piece of it. What we have done though is we have turned this into a much more pay-per-use, scalable and basically all managed-for-you scenario. We basically have taken the public cloud and we have brought it you on-premises. So we are bringing the cloud to you, if you will. Dell just can’t compete on that end.

Because we are truly metering the usage—how many Mbytes you are using, how much memory is being used, on the hour—we have the ability to only charge customers for what they are using versus Dell which offers more of a leasing-type, ‘here is the car payment’ scenario. So in essence we are really giving customers the cloud experience they require. Then you add on top of that GreenLake Central, which gives us that control plane for everything that you want to do. It also provides the ability to do cost analytics across not just your HPE environment but into [Amazon Web Services] AWS and [Microsoft] Azure as well. We see all the costs that are happening, and we can provide the analysis on where can you go save money, so we recommend a variety of places that you can go save money.

A huge thing with enterprises today is compliance. Everyone is worried about security, regulatory challenges and full compliance, so we take advantage of over 1,500 different rules and processes that we look at for customers, again also into AWS, Azure. So we come back with what are the potential challenges or issues and then how you remediate those rules or process challenges as well, so we are providing a real value-add on top of the core cloud experience.

The other cool thing we are doing is we are bringing this to the web [to HPE.com.] We think this is going to provide a lot more demand and opportunities to our partners and the channel. In essence we have created the GreenLake experience on HPE.com, so customers have the ability to learn, price quote, trial and then go to our partners in order to purchase and get the rest of the services required for that. So we are bridging that gap–providing customers a full cloud-like experience. It’s all about customer experience at this stage.

How big a breakthrough is it that customers can now try GreenLake on HPE.com?

It’s huge. It’s a major milestone for us. As we become a cloud services and a software company, it becomes all about these experiences for our customers. You are going to see this manifest itself at HPE Virtual Discover when we launch all of that. We are really excited about it.

What is the call to action for partners to leverage the 'try and buy' from HPE.com?

First, I want all our partners to go to Discover. Because it is virtual, we can get to every single person within every single part of our partner base. It is not just who can fly to Vegas. No one is limited. Everyone gets to access Virtual Discover. They can hear [HPE CEO] Antonio [Neri] (pictured), me, [Aruba founder and Intelligent Edge President] Keerti [Melkote] and get deep information on what we are doing.

Job two is partners should head up to HPE.com and take a look at the new (GreenLake) experience. Our marketing and digital experience team have just done a fantastic job of revising all of the new content for all of these new cloud services. There is a ton of new content. You can play with the quoting tool, take a look at GreenLake Central and how it works. They can request a trial.

Once partners get the GreenLake education, let’s get to our customers. Let’s show them the value that they can go and drive today and what we can go do for them. As you know, in this COVID-19 environment finances are tight. Revenue is not coming in in certain industries. Customers are looking to save costs. We are here to help customers. We—meaning us, our partners and our whole ecosystem—are here to help. That is our theme for Discover: We are here to help.

What opportunity does the COVID-19 pandemic bring to HPE and the channel for a pay-per-use GreenLake model?

We are seeing significant uptick in customer interest and pipeline in GreenLake. We are hearing it from our partners too. A good measure of that is what kind of response we have seen from the public website and our partners. It’s not just our website but our internal partner website. GreenLake has been No. 1 and trending significantly up over the last couple of months And then every conversation I have with a customer is, 'How can you help me with cash flow and costs?' This is a fantastic opportunity for us to help customers dealing with this situation.

What is the biggest impediment you have seen with regard to the channel driving GreenLake sales?

We are going to rely so deeply on this ecosystem. It is critical. The biggest thing I need them to do is move out of the product, transactional mode and much more into customer solutions. Customers know the products. There is information on the web. What we need partners to get at is how customers are trying to transform their businesses, how are those customers trying to engage with their customers deeper, and how they are trying to help their employees be more productive. Then the partners can present the opportunity from a digital transformation or modernization effort to go and do that. The biggest thing for the partners is to flip to that. Then they can offer true services. There are a bunch of services that customers are going to require to help them implement these solutions, manage these solutions and grow the solutions. That is the biggest thing.

What does it mean that there is now a single HPE GreenLake Cloud Services Business Group?

This is exciting for partners. To date we are sitting at about $4 billion of total contract value. We are sitting at approximately 1,000 customers. We are in that phase where we are starting to see dramatic growth from that standpoint. We are nearing 50 percent through the channel. So that means we are starting to scale the business. Partners have to view this as a train that they can jump on and help accelerate, not just the business and the revenue but the relationship they have with their customers. This is about a deeper relationship with their customers, getting out of the transactional piece of the business and being a true business partner to help their customers be more successful.

Will there be a separate partner program for GreenLake in the new fiscal year?

I want to make sure the existing partners can evolve and grow with us and be very successful. That said, we also know we have to expand to more partners. As you offer solutions there is more system integration, more ISV apps that get plugged in, more MSP or telco becoming a new channel because they want to take and deliver solutions to their customers. I think you are going to see the next-generation partner ecosystem, which is growing. But it has to bring the existing ecosystem along, so it is more of an evolution that I am working with [HPE Worldwide Channel Chief] Paul Hunter and his team on versus doing something separate. We want to embrace the folks that have gotten us here, and we want to make sure we make them successful going forward.

Are you happy with the 17 percent up-front rebate as it exists right now with regard to compensation?

We are only successful if it is a win- win. We jointly have to be profitable. We also understand that we have to be able to provide partners with better profitability than our competition can offer them, because they can go in different routes if they want to. So we have to continue to stay highly profitable for those partners, and they have to view us as a growth engine for their business.

We are into the planning process to talk about what the rebates are going to look like next year. What I really want to know from partners is, is this helping you to be profitable? Are you seeing this as the right approach? I don’t know what the right percent or amount is, but I want to make sure they view this as helping them be profitable.

Frankly, I have found there are opportunities for us to streamline and also to integrate tighter. We have to sell through and with our partner ecosystem. Not selling instead of or selling separately. This has to be a partnership.

In essence we have sell through and with partners and leverage each other’s strengths to our customer base. At the end of the day it is all the same customer. The customer is looking at us and saying, 'You both need to get together and help me, not approach us individually or in silo-type scenarios.' That is a real opportunity for us.

What do partners need to do to make sure they are in sync with the GreenLake Cloud Services business unit go to market?

Partners have to lean in on that customer digital transformation and modernization efforts. That is the key. It starts with the customer, what their business challenges are and the direction they are going in. The key is start to flip a bit that way.

The second thing is they need to truly understand what it is we at HPE are offering so they can plug it into their offerings so it is a single motion to the customer—not six or seven different disjointed ones.

The last thing I would say is keep the feedback coming. The thing that I have been very impressed with in regard to the HPE partner ecosystem is they are very specific and direct in their recommendations. They are giving us feedback on how we can improve. They know if we can provide that improvement, they will then see the profitability at the end of this, so partners need to keep the feedback coming.

Having come from Microsoft, what do you think of HPE’s ability to be more of a software provider?

That is why HPE brought folks like me into the company and acquired companies like BlueData which brought [HPE CTO and software chief and former BlueData CEO] Kumar Sreekanti (pictured) and his folks to the company.

There are a broad range of software engineers at HPE. When you think about it from a hardware standpoint, there is a lot of fleet management you have to do. If you are Keerti with Aruba, you have got thousands of devices that are out there—endpoints and edge locations—that you have to manage. And you have to do that in a very simple way so the customer can see the results from an experience standpoint, which is super challenging. That extends all the way up to the data fabric and the HPE container platform that has been built with our MapR acquisition and the BlueData folks. Then you get into the Cray acquisition and [former CEO of Cray and now senior vice president of HPE's HPC and mission-critical solutions] Pete Ungaro and all of his team that are building solutions for AI and analytics, video analytics and helping with the COVID-19 response to solve for the problem of how to create what is the right vaccine.

So you have got a wide range of software developers from folks on devices with storage and compute to architect those devices so they can self-heal and identify a challenge all the way up to research-type scenarios. I have been really impressed with the breadth and scale of the HPE software developers. What we’ll see is more and more in the cloud bucket how do we create more cloud services with that. That is what I have been doing along with Keerti and Kumar Sreekanti to bring in more of those folks. It has been impressive to see.

Coming from Microsoft it has been impressive to see the top tier, top quality folks at HPE. I have been nothing but impressed.

How do you feel about the future as you look at the GreenLake Cloud Services business unit with partners?

The opportunity is significant. If you look at some of the [data from researcher IDC] and some of the metrics that are out there, this as a service market is significant but growing 40-plus percent going forward. That is similar to what you are seeing on the public cloud growth side of the house. Customers are moving their on-premises scenario to this cloud services opportunity, so there is going to be a lot of revenue out there for us. For me, I see nothing but white space. We have a unique differentiated solution that our customers are requiring that truly brings those customers value. When you have something like that, the sky is the limit. This is why I need the partners to lean in and get involved in these workloads and solutions and the digital transformation and the customer service opportunities.

From a partner’s standpoint not only are they with this approach serving their customers in a much more effective and profitable way but they also have the ability to expand that customer relationship and expand the things they are delivering to those customers.

I see huge opportunity here. That is one of the key reasons why I came here and one of the key reasons I am so excited about where we are at right now.

Why is it taking so long to get the GreenLake Central multi-cloud management console to partners?

GreenLake Central became generally available two months ago. It is the first instantiation. My push on the team is we have to get this out to our partners as fast as we can. The key is because it is such a critical control plane, we have to be very thoughtful about what we expose to the partner from the customer standpoint. The team is trying to be very thoughtful about what are those core aspects they can expose so the customer can manage it but not so much that we are messing with privacy or security challenges. It has more to do with that piece of it.

The second thing I want to do for our channel is to enable them to be able to deliver their own services through GreenLake Central and then also to basically pass GreenLake Central to their end customer so they can basically be that solution provider out to their customer. Those are the two things we have on the road map with the team that we are full speed ahead on.

That is going to allow us to scale and allow the business to take off. That is a key focus of mine.