LAS VEGAS: Between cutting more staff and flat revenues, it’s not been an easy time for CEO Meg Whitman but at last month’s earnings call with analysts she was quite happy with HP’s product roadmap. “Innovation is at the heart of our strategy to turn HP around.”
There was no shortage of innovation at HP Discover 2014 including a number of what it called game-changing offerings. The announcements included: two high-performance computing systems, the air-cooled Apollo 6000 and the Apollo 8000, the world’s first 100% liquid-cooled supercomputer; the all-flash HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 Storage array at the same cost per gigabyte as 15k disk; backup, recovery and archive (BURA) solutions, including enhancements to StoreOnce Backup; Virtual Cloud Networking SDN Application and HP FlexFabric Datacenter 7900 switch series; OneView and ConvergedSystems for Virtualization enhancements; and two new services – Trusted Network Transformation and Datacenter Care Flexible Capacity, a pay-as-you-go solution that delivers a public cloud experience with the benefits of public and/or on-premise IT
Monday’s announcements made it clear why HP felt that including HAVEn (Hadoop-Autonomy-Vertica-Enterprise security-n/apps) with its SAP HANA announcements last week, instead of waiting for Discover wouldn’t be an issue. Timing the HANA news for SAPPHIRE 2014 was a no-brainer, but now I understand why HP might have believed that there was no need – or perhaps room – to hold off on the HAVEn news.
With the sheer volume of the news, I didn’t have the time or bandwidth to cover these announcements to the extent they should be. Instead, here is a brief sampling of some of the more memorable comments from HP execs.
Bill Veghte, EVP and GM, HP Enterprise Group, kicked things off saying there is a large gap between what users want and what IT delivers, and this has to change. “They need us to be heroes, super heroes.”
HP is celebrating its 75th birthday this year and Veghte said the company is well-positioned to help bridge the gap between the existing and emerging new style of IT. “This is something we do better than anybody else!”
If we are transitioning to the new IT, then the network is the weakest link, said Jean-Paul Wagner, SVP & GM, HP Technology Services. Compute and storage have seen significant advances. “The network is still the weak spot of the transformation… the lowest and slowest portion of this transition”.
Which is just one of the reasons SDN is getting so much attention. Kash Shaikh, Senior Director, Marketing, HP Networking, said one of the key benefits is that customers don’t have to change anything. “It’s important for customers to know they’re buying something that will take you there and they won’t have to rip and replace” later if and when they decide to implement SDN. He calls it an “investment protection” option, and to date HP has shipped 30 million OpenFlow-capable (i.e. SDN) ports.
Customers can turn it on now, or they can turn it on later. Their choice, said HP.
Regardless of the timing, SDN will play a critical role in networking – and IT’s – future, said Antonio Neri, SVP & GM, Servers and Networking Business Units, HP. The current IT is limited by complexity. “We believe no software-defined networking, no cloud!”
HP made some bold performance statements about its various announcements, especially for the all-flash array. In addition to claiming better price/performance than EMC and the horde of flash contenders, HP Storage SVP & GM David Scott said the 7450 was the beginning of the end for autotiering. “It’s fast, it’s affordable and it’s also enterprise class.”
Tom Joyce, SVP & GM, Converged Systems, HP, called the company’s focus on integrating compute, storage, network and software in plug-and-play bundles (called Sharks) a “game changer.” The company has released Sharks for VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and SAP HANA, and interest, if not demand, has been strong. He said they’re growing at 2X the server market.
“Our focus is at the application,” said Jeff Carlat, Director Product Management Converged Systems, HP. Customers are trying to cobble together their own infrastructure systems but it’s a struggle to bring all the pieces together, which is something HP can more readily do, he said.
When Carlat talks to customers, he is told it’s all about them wanting to deliver workloads faster, better, and with less risk. HP’s breadth and depth, along with its application focus, becomes the trigger. “I see the most traction from our customers is when the topic is about applications.”
Currently the converged systems market is worth about $7 billion, and in addition to HP, key players include Cisco/VCE, IBM, Dell and NetApp. Carlat said the market is heating up and will jump to $17 billion within the next couple of years.
Neri wasn’t just pushing SDN and networking. He’s also responsible for servers, and said HP is the leader in the server world and will lead the world in the compute era. “To power the new style of IT we have to transform compute to deliver workloads in minutes.”
The HPC announcements make supercomputing available to enterprises of any size. This is “true innovation,” he said.
The Fiddly Bits (& Bytes)
Pricing and availability:
-HP Apollo 6000 and HP Apollo 8000 will be available beginning June 10;
-HP 3PAR StoreServ 1.92TB cMLC drives are expected to be available in July for $14,315 per drive;
-HP FlexFabric 7900 switch series starts at $55,500 and is available now;
-HP Trusted Network Transformation is available now with customized solution pricing
-HP Datacenter Care Flexible Capacity is available now.
DISCLAIMER: I’m here courtesy of HP, and I’m also a shareholder. Yeah!?!