I had a chance to spend some time at the HP Enterprise Discover event in Las Vegas last week. I was last at the event in 2012 when HP was a $120 billion entity. Today, HPE after the spin off from its personal computer and printing businesses and more recently the sale of its business services group to CSC, is about 40% of that size.
I had expected to see a much smaller show floor. But it was just as big as four years ago , and while the majority of the booths focused on HPE’s IT infrastructure focus – servers, storage, network – I was pleased to see quite a bit of application focus.
First, the data center focus. Plenty of speeds and feeds and contemporary jargon like hybrid clouds, composable infrastructure, hyper converged, Big Data, software defined everything, Docker, Helion etc. that Ben Kepes does a nice job summarizing.
HPE’s messaging is much tighter, but I am not clear how the economics will work. If with a captive sub like EDS it could not compete with public cloud economics, how will it do so partnering with independent service providers? While there will always be large customers like Dropbox which was on stage and has been moving away from AWS, many smaller customers are going the other way and increasingly buying their infrastructure as a service. Same thing with telcos. HPE would love to sell them gear, but telcos are some of the least popular vendors with CIOs, and it will be interesting to see if HPE passes along what it learned from the frustrating last few years to them and to relatively new SIs like PwC which was prominent at the show.
More about apps. I heard “Digital Transformation” several times. (I had just been at Cognizant Community and heard a very different angle on Digital there) It was good to see focus on verticals like Legal Services (with eDiscovery and other tools), Retail, Healthcare and others. I particularly enjoyed cameos where HPE introduced us to the DS Virgin Formula E racing team. Plenty of dazzle and sustainability in that combination. A demo with a Flowserve pump (with instrumentation from National Instruments and an augmented reality app – see image) brought out a nice predictive maintenance use case. Another one with PTC (and more measurement tech from National Instruments on a bicycle ) presented a product engineering use case. Another using a BMW i3 showed off a connected car scenario. I walked around and saw other sections on wind farm management, smart cities and other Internet of Things applications.
My questions here – does HPE have the application/business process depth to support such a wide range of industries? And with so many partners in each solution, will pricing be competitive?
In fairness, this is a new HPE and I liked what I saw in my limited time, even with my questions about economics and application focus. As CEO Meg Whitman said on stage, I definitely felt “a renewed sense of energy”.
I look forward to more live customer examples in future Discovers.