Keerti Melkote On How HPE Aruba Differs From Dell, Cisco

Keerti Melkote, co-founder and president of Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, spoke with CRN about edge momentum and the battle with Dell and Cisco.


Keerti Melkote, co-founder and president of Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, architected the company’s mobile-first, cloud-first strategy. He spoke with CRN about the momentum he’s seeing in the edge market, HPE’s reinvigorated innovation pipeline, and the battle with Dell Technologies and Cisco Systems.

What is the HPE Aruba message at Discover 2019?

The core strategy is edge-enabled, cloud-enabled and data-driven. The market is shifting to be more and more edge-oriented. The last decade has been about cloud. It is not that cloud goes away. Cloud will continue to grow and do well in the market. Cloud has been a traditional IT-centric capability. What edge is about is business-centric capabilities. We talk about customer experience. That is about the business itself and enhancing the line of business and the revenue of a given business. Fundamentally, the edge is about data about your customers, data about your products and data about what you are selling in stores, data that is potentially coming into your assembly line and factories if you are a manufacturing company, data about your oil fields if you are an oil and gas company. Fundamentally, it is about where your business action happens. There is a ton of data that is collected at the edge that is today not necessarily processed for business benefit.

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What we are seeing in the next wave of opportunity is infrastructure that is going to be deployed at the edge. Infrastructure is connectivity, compute, control and security capabilities with the express purpose of collecting data to enhance customer experience and enhance the top and bottom lines of businesses. That is the exciting part of this. This is about the next decade—not the next year. It is a whole new trend. Obviously, every edge that we deploy is all about the data, but it will also be cloud-enabled. These edges are going to be deployed in thousands of locations. It is not like it is going to go to one or two data centers. We are going to be deploying in thousands of locations, so making that work at a distributed scale is very important. It is a manageability problem. That gives rise to the need for more managed services and services assurance at the same time.

What is going to be the impact on the partners and the partner business model?

I see this as an opportunity for partners to really reinvigorate their businesses. I have had a number of conversations with channel partners who have felt, frankly, a little disintermediated by the cloud because they are no longer a

player in the dialogue between the cloud provider and the customer. In the edge context, it is a very similar business model that they are used to. It is deploying infrastructure. You need to deploy it at the edge rather than simply consume it. From a customer standpoint, what they care about is consumption. For partners, this is an opportunity to deliver a consumption-based edge solution.

Talk about the HPE edge computing vision and strategy.

At the highest level, the value proposition we are packaging around the edge is three-pronged: We have the technology, we have the people and we have the economics. The technology translates into innovation. [HPE President and CEO] Antonio [Neri], coming from an engineering perspective at heart, has reinvigorated the innovation pipeline at HPE overall. It is reflected in not only his commitment to fund an additional $4 billion investment in the edge but also M&A transactions to bring new capabilities into the company.

What is the difference between Aruba and Dell’s approaches to the edge market opportunity?

I see Dell as an IT supermarket without an edge. They just don’t have Aruba. They don’t have any of the focus that we have on the edge. That is where the future is. This is about skating to where the puck is going to be as opposed to where the puck is. If partners want a trusted vendor they can go to market with that knows where the future is, they should go with HPE. We see the future as being edge-centric. That is the biggest differentiator.

What is the difference between Cisco and Aruba?

Cisco is very data-center-oriented. Cisco’s offer has always been core- and data-center-out as opposed to the edge-in. Aruba’s approach has always been the edge-in. We look at the users. We look at IoT and start to look at how that changes your network architecture versus where the servers are and how that influences the edge. It is a very dramatically different approach to the market.