As Meg Whitman steps down, HPE fleshes out hybrid ambitions

Hybrid IT represents a $100bn business, and is a segment HPE has set its sights on

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In what is probably her last major keynote presentation, HPE CEO Meg Whitman addressed delegates at HPE Discover, introducing her successor, Antonio Neri.

As Computer Weekly has reported previously, the company is attempting to re-engineer its business around higher-margin products and services.

During Whitman’s tenure as CEO, thousands of jobs have been lost as the company downsized and refocused. It split in 2015, forming Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. The Enterprise Services business, formed from the $13bn acquisition of EDS in 2008, recently merged with CSC, and HPE’s software arm has merged with Micro Focus.

Beyond the scaling back, the company has also made a number of strategic acquisitions, including Aruba Networks in 2015 and Simplivity Nimbus and SGI in 2017. It has also established a technology services business, Pointnext, set up to help businesses implement digital transformation projects.

Whitman said: “I will be stepping down in January. I have said the next CEO should come from the company and Antonio is exactly what I had in mind. I think he is going to be an incredible CEO.”

She said the company is now stabilised and stronger. “We have strengthened this company and stabilised for the future, improved productivity, increased customer and partner scores and reignited innovation.”

Whitman believes digitisation will continue to drive business innovation. “By 2025, the world will be radically different from the world today,” she said. “It is a world where everything computes and that brings many opportunities. The enterprise of the future will be data-fuelled.”

HPE is betting on demand for so-called edge computing. Whiman said: “We believe the enterprise of the future will be hyper-connected to the edge – the world outside your datacentre. We believe the edge will be where you turn data into insights and your insights into actions.”

She predicted that artificial intelligence (AI) will be built into everything, enabling the world to be autonomous and be smarter every day.”

Read more about HPE’s strategy

  • HPE’s financial results suggest it has not had a good time in the IT services and outsourcing business. Will it be third time lucky?
  • HPE is re-engineering its business to focus on hybrid clouds powered by its recent ProLiant Azure Stack server. We assess the strategy.

Discussing how HPE sees enterprise IT changing, current HPE president Antonio Neri said: “Apps for the enterprise will be software-defined for speed.”

He predicted that these applications will be automated and offered as a service. “Our mission is to deliver next-generation IT solutions. The first big bet is the intelligent edge.”

Neri said this is where Aruba fits in, offering a mobile-first, cloud-first approach. “As your IT spans edge to cloud, we should build in security – and we should apply AI,” he added.

In his keynote presentation, Neri went on to highlight the company’s HPC business, which was recently bolstered with the acquisition of SGI. “The volume of data will strip our capabilities to understand it,’ he said. “This is why we acquired SGI and it is why we are doing memory-driven computing.”

OneSphere launched

The company used Discover to launch its OneSphere multi-cloud administration tool.

Ric Lewis, senior vice-president and general manager of HPE’s software-defined and cloud group, said: “The focus is on making hybrid easy, powerful and intelligent and help customers on their digital transformation.”

OneSphere fits into the company’s vision for composable infrastructure alongside its Synergy and Simplivity products.

Lewis said: “OneSphere is different from traditional cloud management tools. Firstly, it is software as a service. There is no software or hardware to install. Yet it tightly integrates with our software-defined infrastructure to achieve simple on-premise operations for that infrastructure.

“OneSphere is also open to all clouds – AWS, Azure, even private clouds, and it manages across all of those. It enables customers to build and deliver clouds faster for all workload deployment models.”

Lewis said OneSphere can be used to optimise costs when using cloud infrastructure. “I spend a lot of time with business executives and they are all talking about how they hate to be surprised by costs,” he said. “In fact, one of my favorite examples is I know a CIO and CFO for a mid-size company who meet every Monday at 10am just to review their cloud costs.

“That means it’s at the front of their radar and they have a team of people who are working all week to make sure they are ready for the Monday morning meeting and have all the cost figured out so they can present it. That is a whole lot work.

“OneSphere eliminates that work. It provides businesses with the insights to make those decisions faster and with the data so that they can have that discussion – and they don’t need to have it every week because there will be surprises. They are always tracking it.”

OneSphere is due to ship initially in the US, the UK, Ireland in January. Beta users include Dreamworks Animation and Thompson Reuters. ...........................................................................................................

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