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HP Discover: Preview & Where to for HP from here?

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I’ll be heading to HP Discover in Last Vegas next week to find out about all things HP.

Where to from here?

It’s no secret HP is having a terrible time at the moment. They are in the middle of a very expensive, very distracting, very time consuming split into two new companies, HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Will two separate companies make any difference to HP? They just reported their worst revenue since 2007. They are spending as much of this declining revenue on Capex as stock buy-backs to prop up the share price. This means they are spending even less money to be able to create future money.

All big IT companies have been transitioning themselves away from tin sellers to service companies, well HP Enterprise Services has been told to find another $2 billion in savings in 3 years. That’s because in the last quarter they had a 16% drop in turnover. Are they going to continue to cut costs so drastically that there isn’t anything left to build on?  They just can’t seem to compete with the cloud.

Storage which is one of the shining product portfolios has seen its revenues head down by 8.4%. Luckily for them they are still not doing as badly as NetApp but that’s only very very slight consolation. Storage buying is changing, it’s moving to converged, hyper-converged and cloud. Storage is becoming more of a server thing so I wonder how HP is going to show its figures when external storage and internal storage just become two options delivery mechanisms for the same thing.

HP still make very very good enterprise hardware, reliable servers, fast storage but this matters less and less when workloads are moving to the cloud. EMC just bought Virtustream for $1.2B to further build out its Hybrid Cloud offering. HP has made similar investment and a lot of noise about its HP Helion public OpenStack based cloud but this doesn’t seem to be translating into sales or a strategy that enterprises can buy into for the long run.

HP says it is not competing against AWS, in my opinion that’s just admiting you are not in the cloud business. You may as well change your company name to HP Legacy.

Lots of uncertainly about HP, can they turn this sentiment around?

Discover Preview

Back to HP Discover, HP has the world watching, what are they going to say?

Software

HP Software’s portfolio is impressive and sometimes you don’t know you’re running an HP product as it isn’t branded HP. HP has been working to further integrate their very disparate portfolio and do simple things like create a common look and feel which may help enterprises purchase new software when it looks like stuff they already have. I was wowed by Aurasma last year, will be great to see what’s new.

Cloud

A simple question, what one earth is HP doing about cloud and are they going to bet the whole company to actually go big on cloud or pretend it doesn’t apply to them and whither away.

Storage

HP Storage as I’ve mentioned has had a great shot in the arm since they bought 3PAR. David Scott, who started 3PAR has left. David was a personality that really drove HPs storage business so we will need to see if this momentum continues. SAN storage is losing its appeal as storage buying moves closer to the server. HP is uniquely placed to take advantage of this as they are not a storage company but also sell well regarded servers. The question is how do they manage this across divisions. Putting aside local DAS storage, They have 3PAR for external storage as well as Lefthand VSA for local virtual storage. They sell two converged options, same servers but either a Lefthand VSA or VMware VSAN. HP must be more interested in selling its own VSA rather than giving money to VMware. I wonder whether Lefthand is going to continue to be their own VSA. Could we see Lefthand morphed into a 3PAR VSA, This would be very interesting. It would mean Software Defined 3PAR. If you could have the same management across your storage estate from external 3PAR to new 3PAR VSA to even DAS management via 3PAR. (all integrated with OneView) that would be very useful. I’m sure HP has plenty of bigger & better 3PAR and will continue to do well technology wise.

Converged Systems

Converged Systems is HPs answer to Vblock and FlexPod with an integrated stack. Networking sometimes lets the side down as everyone generally wants Cisco so will HP put aside their own networking in some cases and have Converged Systems with Cisco? This market is also changing due to the same reasons as the move away from SAN. Companies want smaller building blocks. HP again has a great answer as they have bigger converged systems for traditional integrated stacks as well as the smaller hyper-converged systems using VSAN/EVO:RAIL or Lefthand. Will we see a HP EVO:Rack on display? Convergence needs to move past just multiple racks which is scalable only for the largest enterprises. The challenge is actually to be able to scale down. Enterprises want t large/mid converged system for their main data centers but than smaller hyper-converged options for their branch offices/DR sites/retail etc. Having a broad converged portfolio is great but they need to be able to offer truly central converged management.

OneView

HP OneView is sort of the answer to this. They realised how utterly horrific HP Systems Insight Manager was and built something new. This has taken a little bit of time and they have deliberately not ported everything from OneView but only built functionality they think you need. It has a good user interface and has good connectivity for managing 3PAR as well. I like OneView, it is so so much better than HPSIM (not hard) but it has one big fat glaring issue. It was built specifically for the converged systems and then extended to be able to manage existing blade chassis. The problem is you need to blow away your existing blade chassis config and rebuild it from  scratch with OneView. This means shutting down your whole blade chassis. A non-started for anyone who has blades already. I REALLY hope HP comes up with a new OneView version which can import an existing chassis config and rejig it for OneView management without downtime. OneView adoption would sky rocket if this was possible. I know a lot of focus is being put into OneView as its the future of all server management

HP Blades

HP c7000 chassis are coming on for 10 years old in 2017. Will there be a replacement? What has Moonshot told them? c7000 have mostly done well other than terrible firmware management over the years. I hope the next version isn’t just a Cisco UCS chaser but something more interesting. Dell has done a phenomenal job with their modular PowerEdge FX line which brings the best of blades and rack mounts together in a more flexible solution. The problem with blades is no real local storage which doesn’t jive with the march to more local converged storage. Having a modular system like the Dell one where you can mix and match storage, networking and compute with different combinations in the same chassis structure is what HP needs but needs to go further otherwise they’re playing me too with Dell.

Networking

I’m not a networking expert but HP has been playing big with its Aruba acquisition for wireless access points. I’ll be interested to see what else they have to say networking wise.

So…

HP has a lot going on, big changes, big decisions, big challenges, I wonder what I will find out.

Vegas here we come!

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