CIO, Data Center, Opinion

HPE Wants to SaaSify All the Clouds

Will you be satisfied if everything is SaaSified?  You’ll eventually be able to find out thanks to HPE’s GreenLake.  HPE GreenLake is a service from HPE that enables a consumption-based model for the services offered under the program.  As time goes on HPE is adding more products and services to the GreenLake portfolio, which also supports helping organizations adopt hybrid cloud solutions through partnerships with AWS, Azure, and Google.

About GreenLake

At inception, GreenLake was an enterprise play, but HPE announced at Discover 2019 that the service would move into the midmarket and that Aruba would be added to the offering’s portfolio, thus bringing enterprise networking to the as-a-service play.  HPE has promised that, by 2022, the company’s entire product portfolio will be available as a service.

If you aren’t familiar with GreenLake, it’s essentially a pay-as-you-go offering that is deployed and managed by HPE’s Pointnext consulting and services arm.  This has some interesting outcomes.  It’s definitely a departure from HPE’s infrastructure focus, which has become more software-centric over time.  GreenLake adds a consumption component and a serious services component.

Man in the middle = Great potential for HPE

Let me return to the fact that HPE is helping customers in their hybrid cloud journeys.  It wasn’t that long ago that HPE exited the public cloud space itself and they’ve now positioned themselves as the independent support organization for all of them, to a large extent.  In the emerging multi-cloud world, this is a brilliant strategy for HPE, as they will be well-placed to help company wrangle the complexities of hybrid environments while easily working around the nuance inherent in the various public cloud platforms.

The potential for HPE and for customers

Imagine a future in which your entire infrastructure, including servers, storage, wired networking, wireless networking, cloud, and edge environments were fully managed by HPE and you simply write a check each month for all of it.  That is clearly the direction that HPE is going.  Their cloud-agnostic stance will serve them well in this, too.  They won’t have a vested interest in the public cloud side, so customers may be more willing to trust HPE consultants with defining technology infrastructure strategy.  I see HPE as making a serious play for all of enterprise IT, from providing the hardware and the software and supporting the whole thing.

What does this mean for enterprise IT?

HPE is far from the only company that will make this play and it’s going to be far more common for customers to buy as time goes on.  The speed of technological innovation in recent years has been incredible, which has enabled the potential for incredible innovation.  The challenge has been simply keeping up with these innovations and developing adoption plans after which strategies can be developed to exploit them.

People just can’t keep up.  The hype has gotten ahead of the capability, and organizations are jumping into digital transformation efforts based on what’s possible, but not always based on what’s realistic based on current skills and knowledge.  The result has been a dismal set of outcomes for many a transformation effort… a very high rate of failure has ensued.

As you look at GreenLake and similar services, the responsibility for keeping up with the technology is placed on an organization – HPE – that has one job to do: to keep up.  CIOs and other remaining IT staff can then plan on mining the infrastructure for business-enablement strategies without having to worry about trying to build the whole thing themselves.  They get to consume the outcomes.

Summary

GreenLake won’t be palatable for everyone, but I do see incredible potential for HPE’s SaaSify-all-the-cloud strategy, which, taken to its logical extreme, means that CIOs basically exit the infrastructure game altogether.  Rather than worrying about buying new storage and networks and servers, CIOs cut a check to HPE to get infrastructure that operates workloads, thus freeing up those CIOs to consume that hardware to improve the potential for transformation efforts to have positive outcomes.