HPE Storage GM Tom Black: 10 Boldest Statements On HPE’s Storage-As-A-Service Transformation
HPE Storage General Manager Tom Black says competitors are playing catch-up in the on-premises cloud data services market. Here are his 10 boldest statements on HPE’s Storage-as-a-Service makeover and what he calls HPE’s ‘tech stack advantage.’
A Storage Game-Changer
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Senior Vice President and General Manager Tom Black says HPE has a “tech stack advantage and a head start” over legacy on-premise- storage competitors with its massive Storage-as-a-Service business transformation.
“Everything about this transformational pivot we are making is about efficiency, speed and a cloud operational model,” Black told CRN. “This is not about selling bits to customers as a primary focus. This is about a true north obsession with the customer’s operational experience and how they do business with a partner. We flipped this business on its head.”
Black, who before taking the helm of the storage business headed up the Aruba cloud-first software switching business, said key to building the unified cloud-native, software-defined storage platform was leveraging Aruba’s cloud-first Aruba Central software and refashioning it into a SaaS-based Storage-as-a-Service platform.
“Nobody has got anything like this,” said Black. “This is unique in the industry. We have built a common cloud platform in the company that is based off of seven years of Aruba development. That platform has over 2 million devices under management, production clusters around the world in 11 different geographies. It is a full-blown SaaS platform that Aruba was adding applications on top of strictly for networking.”
Black said the new HPE Data Services Cloud Console coupled with a new suite of data services forever transforms storage and data management. In fact, he said, the changes open the door to a new era of AI-based “data insights for customers.”
Black said partners and customers should expect a wave of new cloud data services going forward. “We have a whole rolling thunder of cloud-native and cloud-centric storage and data services coming over the next year-plus,” he said. “This is the opening round. This is a very different company moving forward. This is a tremendous opportunity for partners.”
The HPE Tech Stack Advantage Versus Competitors
AWS has made some comments that 95 percent of the workloads are still on-prem. They and other [public cloud providers] are trying to find ways to come on-premises. They are smart, well-run companies and they’ll move at some pace in that direction. The competitors that primarily came from on-premise—the vast majority of them agree—that the cloud operational model is something that you must achieve moving forward. We started with a platform years before they did. So we have a time advantage right now. We need to continue to execute on that.
[Pure Storage CEO] Charlie Giancarlo had an interview that was published recently that espoused a high-level view with some similarities to what we are talking about. Dell has made allusions to Project Apex. We will see hopefully in the weeks ahead what they mean by that.
I think the concept of the cloud operational model for the customer is a place that will have plenty of company in the months ahead. The difference is we have a got a tech stack advantage and a head start.
‘Nobody Has Anything Like This’
Nobody has got anything like this. This is unique in the industry. We have built a common cloud platform in the company that is based off of seven years of Aruba development. That platform has over 2 million devices under management, production clusters around the world in 11 different geographies. It is a full-blown SaaS platform that Aruba was adding applications on top of strictly for networking.
We took that [Aruba platform] and redesigned our management control plane and future services to run on this console much like you would if you logged into the AWS to get their products and solutions as you drop down to storage. We built this entire common substrate that is bigger than just storage. It is glued into our IT systems, including our partner registry.
Partners and customers can create accounts. Partners can use different services or apps like you would if you were on a hyperscaler [platform].
We have a whole rolling thunder of cloud-native and cloud-centric storage and data services coming over the next year-plus. This is the opening round. This is a very different company moving forward. This is a tremendous opportunity for partners.
A New Cloud Operational Model For Storage
You don’t need to worry about the [storage] boxes anymore. You just describe your workload and we auto-configure everything, latch it up, and away you go. This is the definition of cloud-native. When you talk about instantiating a service versus piloting a piece of hardware, there is a dramatic difference. We are bringing this cloud operational model into an on-premises estate. This is done with a very mature, massively scalable global SaaS platform that is unique to Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
New Managed Services Opportunities For HPE Partners
Partners are able to fully provision, troubleshoot, diagnose, upgrade and whatever else they need to do from the Data Services Cloud Console. That applies to any customer anywhere in the world.
What this means for partners that have dozens and dozens of customers is they now have a very efficient way to sell a value-added virtual resident engineer [service]. The productivity of that engineer for the partner is now very different. They no longer have to deal with a plethora of VPN technologies to get into a customer’s site or worst-case scenario having to drive to a customer site to do troubleshooting and upgrade by extending new services. Basically a partner can sit with an iPad at a Starbucks and service the customer with speed and efficacy. Think about all the time that it would normally take a support call to get set up to get into the network from the outside. That is gone. In under 30 seconds that partner is into that customer’s data estate.
A “True North Obsession” With The Customer’s Operational Experience
Everything about this transformational pivot we are making is about efficiency, speed and a cloud operational model. This is not about selling bits to customers as a primary focus. This is about a true north obsession with the customer’s operational experience and how they do business with a partner. We flipped this business on its head about eight months ago and said this was what we were going to do, and the team has pulled off an amazing body of work. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people have come together, worked long hours to get us to this launch. I could not be more proud and humbled to be part of this storage group.
CloudPhysics: The First Step In Making Partners More Profitable
The first thing we did [to make partners more profitable] is acquire CloudPhysics [in February] to create the [AI-based] SDOE [Software-Defined Opportunity Engine]—the storage assessment tool that partners love. That cut down the time it takes to figure out what a customer needs. That was step one. This [Data Services launch] is step two. With CloudPhysics and SDOE, partners get speed. They spend less time to get to more dollars. That is ope,,rating margin profitability. That was step one. This is step two. This brings a cloud operating model and an opportunity for managed services to my partners. This is not cutting them out of the game. This is the second proof point to make it more profitable for our partners to do business with us. We are making it easier for partners to fan out, scale and collect higher margin for more value-added services from customers. This is a deliberate series of steps to help move our giant partner ecosystem into a cloud operations model for themselves and their customers. We are bringing them along for the journey—not cutting them out. As long as you are my partner I am bringing you a bigger TAM [total addressable market], and I’m making it easier for you to make money.
No One Has Made A ‘Pivot This Hard’
If you look across my competitive peer set—all companies I respect—no one has made a pivot this hard. I do believe that you will see many companies begin to message similar things because the reason workloads moved to the public cloud was first and foremost for agility. What we are bringing is that agility back to the ranch, back to the glass house.
Think about if you are a regional hospital with Nimble and 17 different hospitals. You are no longer worried about VPNing into every hospital to check capacity and get reports so you can file them with the compliance officer. Now you just log into Data Services Cloud Console and you see all your sites and storage. So you can see if Hospital No. 14 is going to run out of capacity in six weeks. The efficacy of managing stuff across a distributed enterprise is truly ground-breaking.
A New Standard For Storage Performance
So what we did is we took our two largest platforms, Primera and Nimble, and we added some additional software to them to make them function seamlessly and effectively in this cloud operational world. The Alletra 9000 has its genesis in Primera—although it is a brand new all-NVMe system. The Alletra 6000 has its DNA from Nimble.
So we took all of the mature hardened code in our two flagship primary storage systems and augmented them with control plane and management plane software to be married to our Data Services Cloud Console. So now you have end-to-end, on-premises cloud-native on-premises hardware glued and integrated with our cloud control plane.
A Natural Progression For Nimble/Primera To Alletra
This is the natural progression from the existing [Nimble and Primera] systems to the newer all-NVMe systems. We have revolutionized the operational experience.
What is important for all our existing systems is that in the fourth quarter of this year we will make the Alletra 9000 code base available on the existing Primeras, and we will be making the Alletra 6000 code base available on the existing Gen 5 Nimble. So you will have an upgrade path to this rich operational experience if you are an existing customer by year-end.
Obviously, if you choose to purchase a new system right now you are up and running with the new 6000s and 9000s. We are not walking away from our customer base. It is exactly the opposite: We are back-porting the new code onto the latest of those two installed base systems so those customers have investment protection and can realize all the efficiencies and gains from Data Services Cloud Console.
HPE CEO Antonio Neri’s Everything-As-A-Service Cloud Leadership
This all starts with the promise Antonio made a couple of years ago that we were going to be the edge-to-cloud Platform-as-a-Service company. He meant it. And those of us who work for him signed up for that mission. One of the things that is refreshing and powerful about today’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise is the level of dependency and interaction, code sharing and technology sharing that is happening between all of the major P&Ls—network, compute and storage.
We now work together in a way that was different than the company I joined seven years ago when HP was a huge 350,000 federation of smaller companies. Now we are one enterprise company. Now we are working on one cloud platform. Now we are working on one very strong strategic thesis.
That is different and new and quite exciting to be part of because we can do things—as you have seen—at a speed and magnitude that was not possible historically for us.