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HP Discover here I come!

imageI’m very excited that HP has invited me to attend HP Discover in Las Vegas next week as a blogger. It’s going to be an intense few days, 15 hours of travel each way for 2.5 days of HP Discover!

I’m particularly looking forward to speaking to HP product managers and executives and chatting to other bloggers and attendees to get a sense of what’s new with the “new” HP.

Management

Product wise, I’m first of all keen to delve deeper into HP OneView, HP’s converged infrastructure manager which aims to finally bring together HP’s disparate management tools, ultimately replacing HP SIM which I really don’t like and incorporating Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager. HP OneView runs as a virtual appliance and you pull in your servers, iLOs, chassis, Virtual Connects etc. where they can be managed and reported on from one place. It has an API so you can finally script against it with PowerCLI and other tools which cannot come soon enough.

 

OneView has its limitations though, its really only been built to properly manage Gen8s and above so G7s and below don’t get as much love. You need specific OA and Virtual Connect versions to have them managed by OneView which causes issues for people who don’t have faith in updating to the latest and greatest firmware and there are also new license considerations so OneView may cost you more.

OneViewdashHP SUM (Software Update Manager) is also now baked into OneView which at least moves away from the terrible Version Control Repository Manager that came with HP SIM. Pushing out HP software and firmware updates is a little easier but I find HP SUM by itself still rather clunky particularly customising it for build scripts, pre-configuring components and updating servers with any automation other than OneView directly. We also still live in a world with plenty of Windows 2003 which the HP Service Pack for Proliant (SPP) doesn’t support so I’d like to find out how HP suggest you still manage software and firmware for 2003 without downloading each component separately. Hopefully I will be able to get more information on how to manage all of this easier going forward.

Networking

Networking wise I am interesting in the exciting new world of SDN and how HP sees itself alongside Cisco ACI. VMware NSX, Microsoft NVGRE etc. I am also interested in low-latency networking for low-latency financial trading applications which I’ve recently been work on. HP has partnerships with Mellanox and SolarFlare and I’d like to get an update how these work best in conjunction with rack and particularly blade hardware.

Strategy

HP’s larger strategy and direction is also very interesting. HP is a company struggling with an IT world that is changing dramatically. It has come from a position of the world’s preferred server hardware vendor. Virtualisation made people buy fewer but bigger better servers flocking to the likes of HP and they moved very successfully into the storage business to ride this trend with a compelling storage product line-up. Hardware is increasingly a very low margin business with other options based on cheaper white box components now available. If you are looking at building an infrastructure at scale, do you still pay a premium for HP or rather use something from SuperMicro with the same Intel CPUs etc., maybe not as well built but good enough and certainly cheaper.

HP is trying to be more like IBM and work as a full service provider but that world is changing too where big paying enterprises no longer just head to IBM/HP/Accenture et al. to manage their internal IT but towards a public cloud model that is far more flexible. Rather than having a single large IT service/cloud provider running the majority of your IT you may have many smaller providers for specific needs and it is increasingly easier to move between them.

If HP wants to survive it needs to be able to somehow pivot from where they were/are and be relevant and fighting strong in the future, not just hang on to and vainly try to extend the past of managing kit in private data centers or just host enterprise servers in HP data centers. HP needs a compelling strategy backed by solid products to move its customers to the brave new world of cloud computing run on/by HP but 4 CEOs in 4 years and laying off 50,000 staff shows a leadership struggling so far to make this happen.

HP still has deep relationships with its enterprise customers which it has to leverage to help them with this difficult cloud journey. HP has great hardware products and is one of the few companies that can create a truly integrated stack, it even has one up on VCE constrained by its VMware ownership preventing converged infrastructures for Hyper-V, KVM or OpenStack but HP has a history of poor integration and that’s what converged infrastructure and cloud is all about.

HP_cloudHP has announced it is spending $1B on cloud in the next 2 years based on OpenStack. Put into perspective that it just headline grabbing, it equates to a week a year of Google’s profits or 5 weeks a year of HPs, not a huge investment at all.

Is HP planning on being “all clouds to all people”? Does it see its future as running its enterprise customers data centers or private clouds with expensive outsourcing agreements, running a VMware public cloud as well as a Helion OpenStack cloud and providing that managed bridge between multiple private/hybrid/public clouds helping their customers move easily between any of them but all managed by HP with associated performance guarantees etc. Can HP navigate the world of open source and still make money? Will its OpenStack cloud be so customised by HP that it is no longer an open platform and no-one can easily move to and from it reducing its attraction?

Can HP make servers cheap enough itself to compete against the likes of SuperMicro running in any number of other cloud companies? What about platforms? As infrastructure becomes commodity, the money is going towards the platform with CloudFoundry currently leading the charge. What is HP doing to grab these workloads? Applications wise, HP has made some disastrous decisions, can it build and run applications in its cloud that enterprises will pay big money to use. What is HPs platform and application strategy? Can it realign its huge engineering, sales and support organisations towards a common cloud goal but with multiple products? Never mind the current predictable cloud future, what is HP doing that is going to be truly disruptive, innovative and game changing and not an “also me” approach? 3D printing?

HP has plenty of work to do to stop what looks like the last gasp of a behemoth spiralling into oblivion, can it move profitably into the brave new cloud world being carved out by Amazon, Microsoft and Google? We’ll have to see if HP Discover has any answers.

If you’d like to meet or catch up at HP Discover, please get in touch and we’ll continue the conversation in person.

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