HP just held the US version of its biannual Discover user conference. And it was the last one as the HP we know - by the time the show arrives in London in December there should officially be two new companies: Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP, Inc. (the latter – conveniently – being the one with the actual ink!). In the “main tent” sessions there was much focus on, and myriad mentions of, the separation, but the users I spoke with remained skeptical; not so much of what value it might bring to the uber HP, but of what direct impact and value it might have on them. As weak and obvious a statement as it is, only time will tell.
Of course Meg Whitman, et al., talked a lot about becoming more nimble and therefore better able to address users’ needs. However, from what I saw there is plenty of manifestation of user focus already; all wrapped up in a company that feels way more energetic than it did just a handful of years back. I realize that might be a function of the HP groups that I deal with in depth, but both Jason Buffington and I found reasons to be upbeat about the HP elements we track closely….the video here gives our highlight analysis on those elements as well as general commentary about the event and HP.
I plan to produce some more detailed commentary about the HP Storage group soon, so to wrap this post I’ll stick with the overall organization. There is clearly still some “creative tension” regarding how HP portrays itself (and I’m not referring to the new green rectangle logo for Hewlett Packard Enterprise!). On the one traditional hand there’s the old, approachable, “we started in a garage,” HP – that leads to a nice open-ness (“frickin’ apps everywhere!” said Nefkens), hugs between presenters and Meg – very good this - thanking the event producers and crew. On the other contemporary hand there’s now “composable infrastructure” and “collisionable moments” to go along with “polymorphic simplicity” (well, yes, and the justification of why they use a green rectangle!). I am not bothered which is chosen, but I hope each newly separated part of HP chooses one or the other; because trying to embrace both can lead to a nascent corporate personality disorder; it is why the main sessions felt 100% professional but strangely unsatisfying and uncompelling….and that being despite the undoubtedly good content. Over recent years HP’s brand strength has shielded it in some areas from often less-than-stellar products; now in most places (certainly the Enterprise Group that I follow), it has an impressive portfolio. It needs to retain the brand strength so the perception of the portfolio doesn’t get weakened. One can certainly feel the renewed energy and drive, and – for the sake of HP and its customers – let’s hope that 1÷2=>1! The component parts suggest that is entirely possible.
Mark: Welcome to HP Discover 2015, the biggest show from the biggest IT company on Earth. Of course, part of the news here is that HP is about to go from being the one biggest company to two slightly smaller but still enormous companies. And one of the fascinating things about this event is despite the scale of HP, it's still very easy, it comes off very clean. And you can find the parts of HP that you're interested in, which of course is one of the things that matters, because it's too big a company for any one person to cover everything. My colleague Jason Buffington and I will focus in on a couple of the areas that interest us.
And I have to say, there's a delightful irony when you look on the Enterprise side of the company, that when all the big story is about the split of the company into two, but on the Enterprise side that we cover, really all the story is about consolidation and bringing everything back together.
Jason: As part of the HP rebranding, Meg introduced four pillars of what HP Enterprise is going to be all about. One of them is "protect." Now, I like that idea, because when you really think about "protect," there's two ways that you really protect your data. There is information security, and there's improving data backup and recovery.
Jason: And interestingly enough, ESG finds those to be the top two planned spends for 2015. So I love that fact that no matter what else is happening in transforming IT and transforming the business, HP understands that all of that has to be protected. And in HP's case, they have not only the disc solutions to do that, but also HP Helion Cloud, and don't forget tape.
Mark: And if you want to start talking about consolidation from my product area, have a look at this thing.
Mark: When did you think you would see this sort of scale, this sort of affordability, and of course, given that it's based on the 3PAR platform, this sort of functionality from an all-flash array? We really are moving with this into a different arena. I joke with my friends in HP Marketing. They just must have been enjoying themselves when they saw the specs on this, because really, it talks for itself.
Jason: Mark mentioned earlier about the All-Flash array, the 20000, and the ridiculous number of IOPs that comes out of that. But let's talk about the rest of the story beyond just primary storage. One of the other things HP is talking about is replication between the 3PAR arrays and then from there, what they call Express Protect, the idea of going straight from the 3PAR array directly into a StoreOnce deduplication appliance without going through a backup server of any kind. This is probably the beginning of the future for data protection overall, the idea of going straight from the workload to the deduplicated protection storage without going through a backup server per se. HP's not the first one to come up with it, but some of the things they've done along the way make them really interesting to watch.
Something else to think about is copy data management. One of the reasons why we create all those copies of data is because there's all these different business purposes as to backup preparation and BC/DR preparation and biz dev and test and all these other things. But you never want to hinder production performance, which is why those copies exist everywhere else. Well, with like three million IOPs coming off that all-flash array, maybe you don't have to move the data everywhere else. Maybe you just put some exposable Snaps off of that, and really reduce your storage footprint without hindering production, while still enabling all those other business goals. That's a different spin on copy data management, and probably something worth thinking about as we look towards 2016.
Mark: So that's it, a very well-executed show. Just way too much to cover. But by way of summary, what's significant, as you can see behind me, HP, like many IT vendors, is talking about the move to a hybrid approach to IT, which is great. But of course, at the moment, the transformation that is really front and center for HP is the split of the companies. Now, you could argue that HP was the largest ocean-going IT ship in the world. Whether splitting it into two smaller but still huge ocean-going IT ships will really make it able to turn on a dime is something that remains to be seen.