back to article A tale of two conferences: AWS storms ahead, HPE seems to flounder

The Storage Architect As we enter 2017, many people look back at 2016 and attempt to predict what might happen with technology during the coming year. The past isn't always a good reflector of the future (hence the disclaimers on many UK financial institutions' advertising). However, it does do some good to look at where we've …

  1. Broooooose

    Hardware vs Services

    Nailed it!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nail, meet head

    As a former recent employee of HPE I would have to agree you have pretty much summed up the challenge it faces. Its was quite sad watching from the inside what was once a great and important player in the industry turn its back on the market and start its gradual slide into irrelevance.

    Roll back 3 years and, internally, there was a real sense and enthusiasm that the company could change its business model from being a tin company, to one that embraced the idea of services and could help customers with the really tricky challenge of using public cloud, yet still handle traditional workloads, i.e. be the bridge between the two.

    It's investments in and commitments to OpenStack and Cloud Foundry as well as the modernisation of the SW portfolio were key to that, sadly these assets have been divested, leaving it quite literally nothing of interest to customers either on or starting down the cloud route.

    Its hard to pinpoint where it went wrong but from my perspective it's a combination of very insular management who only have histories in HW and the legacy business models, a lot are still unable to even comprehend what cloud even is, to say nothing of what its doing to their business. In fact watching one of the management team in the UK trying to explain cloud was a similar experience to watching a toddler try to grasp the theory of relativity.

    Couple the above with a lot of internal politics and infighting as to who owned what; It was always a laugh watching Enterprise Services try to credibly argue that cloud = Outsource, therefore everything cloud should be them versus HW groups claiming that cloud = fancy lease on HW therefore cloud should be them, and you arrive at 2017.

    What is scary is the company still genuinely believes that what its doing with HW makes it a credible cloud company that can add value to customers, they are spinning the divestments as allowing it to focus down on hybrid cloud (plus some wireless AP's) yet cant see the irony that this actually removes the very IP that could help!

    1. EarthDog

      Re: Nail, meet head

      I saw many of the same things. It was also reflected in high management churn and sales force churn. How does the company expect to survive without good leadership and an effective sales force. The current impression I get is of a company run by spreadsheet monkeys. No vision or leadership, just trying to prop things up while sales erode.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nail, meet head

      I get where you are coming from, but the reality of course is somewhere between what HPE would say and the picture you paint.

      Those software products you talked about are all well and good for building "hybrid cloud" or "bridging the gap between traditional and public cloud workloads" or whatever we want to call them, but the reality is they are complex and difficult to implement except for those with deep knowledge and deeper pockets. And of course you end up doing exactly what you hoped to get away from having to do - be a systems integrator!

      On the flip side the public cloud providers have a frankly awful capability in the hybrid space (the reason for that is another discussion entirely) Yes that's supposed to change with Azure Stack and with whatever AWS do (with VMware maybe), but its all "jam tomorrow" and even then you will effectively find yourself locked in to whatever provider you choose as these guys aren't planning to make their tools interoperable. (will containers fix this for us? maybe for "modern apps" but unlikely for the bulk of legacy IT that makes up so much of what we still spend our money on)

      Public Cloud has grown at a massive rate, but lets be honest, most of the low hanging fruit is done and some of the early visionaries (Drop Box, Uber) are already backing away from it as the true cost and trade-offs becomes apparent. It will continue to grow I am sure, and might still grow at higher rates for a couple more years, but I think we will then see it fall away and erode traditional IT at a much smaller rate.

      Long story short - AWS and Azure will continue to grow faster than HPE, HPE will become less relevant but won't go away, the world is made up of shades of grey not black and white!

  3. Denarius Silver badge

    seems like 1920s again

    reminds me of the 1920 car industry. Tens of firms closed or merged by acquisition into 4 big firms which would eventually merge further. With the rise of virtualisation in all HW components and the various software layers, connected by usually workable networks corporate IT will concentrate into a very few firms who provide a cost effective adequate service. This raises minor questions about Itanic future, (lack of), future of Power architecture and the ARM vs Intel face offs. China with its MIPS derived focus may also provide a "Chrysler" for the GM and Ford of hardware. As for SPARC, another long tail into irrelevance, not allowing for black swan events.

    Next year, HPE sold to a Taiwanese firm ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: seems like 1920s again

      Next year, HPE sold to a Taiwanese firm ?

      Possible, followed soon after by the result of the HPE ES-CSC merger being sold to one of the Indian outsourcers. Of "old" HP that leaves HP Inc., selling desktops, laptops and printers. That then gets bought by one of the other PC manufacturers.

      And so endeth HP...?

  4. ManMountain1

    And yet HPE is one of the most successful tech firms in terms of share price in the past couple of years, and seems to be faring better than other traditional vendors. The real test, agreed though, is the next few years as being one of the best in a shrinking market isn't sustainable.

  5. Dave 13

    Bill and Dave

    HP{E, Inc} lost its focus in critical ways, trying to be the bride at every wedding, etc. They're emblematic of the hollowing-out of first generation tech firms on the premise of increasing shareholder value. Bill and Dave were all about customers and the customer experience - not sure if that language is even spoken there now. IBM's pretty much doing the same thing, though more creatively. DellEMC seems to be trying to adapt to the new world in interesting ways.

    1. nijam

      Re: Bill and Dave

      > Bill and Dave were all about customers and the customer experience...

      I.e. services, not hardware. Plus ca change.

  6. thomn8r

    Starting with Carly, HP's strategy became one of chasing numbers quarter-to-quarter, hoping to grow via acquiring companies and laying off the employees.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It takes a Visionary to lead a tech company

    Tech companies are better led by visionaries. Innovation in key product areas is critical for the success of tech companies. Meg Whitman is a show woman who knows little to nothing of modern IT. You just need to listen to her product announcements once to know how shallow her knowledge of the field is. Mistaking an MSA for 3PAR or proclaiming how quickly HPE came up with HC380, the giant killer HCI champion.

    Her mission is to sell HPE to the largest bidder. And she is putting HPE on a diet to make it lean and attractive. At HPE no one really knows how things are done. It is frustrating to see the lack of focus and complete ignorance of key executives when responding to competition or presenting a solution to customers.

    There is not much hope left in HPE. I don't think any visionary leader will be interested in HPE even if the board is willing to appoint one. The stock market is expecting a sale and the prices may even go higher. After all, Meg Whitman can only do what she knows.

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