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HPE Tech Talk podcast - HPE GreenLake: Flexible cloud for an uncertain future, Episode 2

At a time when the business landscape is evolving at warp speed, companies need—more than ever—flexible, fast and seamless technology solutions. On this episode we’ll delve into HPE GreenLake’s cloud experience and the value it delivers for businesses.



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Robert Christiansen:

Welcome to the HPE Tech Talk podcast. I'm Robert Christiansen with the office of the CTO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Thank you for joining us.

In this episode, I have my good friend and colleague, Erik Vogel. He's responsible for customer experience at GreenLake. Erik, welcome aboard.

Erik Vogel:

Well, thanks Robert.



Thank you for joining us today. So I have to stop and say, what does customer experience mean for GreenLake?


Yeah. Well, as we've started to make our pivot to everything-as-a-service, we have recognized that our customers really want to buy services based on an experience and an outcome.

We recently did a study of over 1000 of our customers who are leveraging public cloud today, and what we found was that 80 plus percent said that public cloud experience met, exceeded, or greatly exceeded their expectations. As a result, we've recognized that we need to provide an experience that meets our customers' needs and our customers' demand in this new as-a-service world.

What my focus is, is really looking at that end-to-end. Understanding how our customers want to learn about our services, how they want to buy our services, how they want to interact with our GreenLake services.



Well, that's super poignant to make, because you and I both are outside in technology people, getting a solution to them that they want, as opposed to us trying to invent something and hope they buy it.

When you guys did the study of the clients' experience, that cloud experience, what was it specifically that they were looking for?


Yeah. After we did the study, there were three things that really rose to the top, what we considered to be our North Star principles as we are designing GreenLake, and bringing GreenLake to market.

It's really about low effort, customers talked about how easy it was, how simple it was, how intuitive it was. That was one of the things we knew we needed to focus on, is how do we make it really easy for our customers to get what they need, to get that outcome that they're looking for.

The second one was speed. Everybody wants things faster. We are seeing a shrinking in business cycles. What used to be a slow cycle business is now standard cycle, what's standard cycle was, fast cycle, and what was fast cycle is now hyper-fast cycle. as a result our customers need things faster, and faster, and faster. That's something we knew we needed to deliver.

The third was, really, the differentiated value. How do we do things that nobody else can do? we're going to do extremely well with the things we do, which is the on-prem cloud-like solutions, and that's what we're focused on.



On the topic of that last one, the number three. We are almost exclusively focused on on-premises value. We believe that a majority of the workloads that are being deployed by our clients are going to remain on-premise.  What are some of those things that you believe that HPE is uniquely qualified to bring in an on-premise cloud experience through GreenLake?


There are a lot of workloads, a lot of applications that, for whatever reason, will not or cannot move to public cloud. things like data gravity or complexity of the application, the interdependencies of the application. Or in some cases, there might not be a business case to move that application to public cloud.

When it comes to those workloads staying on-prem, that's really where we focus with HPE GreenLake. We are bringing a legacy of 50 plus years of really knowing the on-prem environment, really understanding how the infrastructure on-prem needs to operate. Because the minute you move into a data center, or into an edge location, or a customer's co-lo facility, we've got to be working very seamlessly with all of the other infrastructure, all of the other gear, all of the other capabilities in monitoring tools, and management tools that a customer already has in place. That's what GreenLake can do, because of our experience and rich history, working within the data center.

We're bringing GreenLake, that cloud-like experience on-prem by really understanding that underlying infrastructure, and being able to optimize that infrastructure, being able to tweak it, and make it work seamlessly in an existing customer environment. And then when we bring, on top of that, the cloud-like experience with the IP, and the unique capabilities we're bringing with our software teams, with GreenLake Central, the ability to add automation and orchestration, the ability to centralize a lot of functions and make it seamless with a hybrid environment. So, not ignoring the public cloud, but rather embracing that as well.



You know Erik, you and I spent quite a bit of time talking about having a holistic view of my cost, when you think about the unique value that a GreenLake implementation experience the clients could have.

I think about this one conversation I had with a seller, I don't know it was about a day or two ago. They just did a very, very large GreenLake engagement with the client. One of the key areas that they were interested in is, "How do I manage my both on-premises cost, as well as my public costs across multiple clouds, and get a view on my total IT spend from a centralized location?" That's not necessarily all a hardware play, it's also a how do we provide a governance framework around an installation or a hybrid environment through GreenLake.

Can you explain a little bit more about that? And, how that works with our clients?


So when we look at cost, one of the things we've been able to do is, through our cost controls and cost analytics within GreenLake Central, is bring together all of the different costs from both public cloud and GreenLake. And bring it together in one place so that our customers can see, and see a true apples-to-apples comparison of what they're paying, and what workloads are costing them, regardless of where those workloads reside. It can help them make smart decisions going forward, as to where workloads should sit. So we're able to do that, and bring all of that together within GreenLake Central, giving clients the tools.

Once we know the cost, and we understand where the spend is occurring, we can provide a lot of governance and process controls around that, setting things like spend quotas, where we can flag and create alerts if certain businesses units or users are over provisioning. We can also watch for under utilization of assets, whether they are in the public cloud or in GreenLake, to identify areas where clients can reduce their spend, where they might have waste occurring, to help identify those opportunities.

Once we start to bring together all of those different cost pieces, whether that's public cloud or on-prem, we can start to do the analytics with our consumptions analytics on top of that and really provide valuable insights back to clients about where they're spending, why they're spending, where they have opportunities to optimize that spend. And really help them make very smart decisions about where workloads and applications should reside if, in fact, spend is number one or number two on their priority list.



That's a great point. Erik, you and I go back and forth on this a lot when we talk about what's the next roadmap item, and where are we heading, and those type of things, and I think about our Ezmeral Container Platform that was introduced back in February.


One of the things we're seeing, especially with Ezmeral and being able to support a container platform is a lot of our clients don't necessarily have the skills that they need today. Containers are an emerging solution, we have a lot of interest from a lot of our clients in containers, but they don't necessarily have the skillset today. And there's a lot of uncertainty about the rate at which they will ramp up, and being to consume those containers.

we had GreenLake ready to go. And the ability to provision a container platform, and support that container platform for our clients, is absolutely critical. Clients like the idea that, "Hey, I can get a container, I don't have to go architect new infrastructure for that. I don't have to try to manage the capacity of that. I can just go into an automation tool like GreenLake Central, provision my Kubernetes container cluster, and then have it ready to go for my developer or my data scientist, or run that application that I need on top of it. I don't have to worry about knowing everything about Kubernetes, because GreenLake will take care of that for me."

In fact, we had a recent large bank that has decided to go with GreenLake and our container solution, for that reason. They have an application that needed to run in a container. They came to us, for a couple of reasons. One was they were plus or minus 40 or 50 percent, in terms of how much capacity they would need. They liked the GreenLake model because they could consume exactly what they needed, and only paid for what they needed. The other part, which is probably equally as important, is they didn't have the container skills. So they didn't want to have to go out and hire and train a bunch of people to run the container cluster, instead they're asking us to do that.

our heritage understanding the underlying infrastructure and what it takes to run that infrastructure, we were able to reduce the footprint, I think it was from 3000 servers down to 300, so a 90% reduction in footprint.



It's just so dramatic.

What we did was we took the container and made it multi-threaded. That can only happen on a bare metal container platform. So you put Kubernetes down, and you put the application in the container, and you were able to run multiple threads of that container applications in parallel,

You're not going to get that in the public cloud, you're not going to get that from any of the other places out there, only at HP are you going to get that. Wouldn't you agree?


Yeah. Think about this, Robert. If you think about that type of capability, think about how long it would traditionally take to provision that type of infrastructure.



Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.


Once a customer decided they needed it, it would take months. Now, in the GreenLake model, they can provision that in minutes. I mean, this really is revolutionary, when you think about that type of compute capability, on their floor, ready to go at a moment's notice, and provisionable in minutes.

I've been in data center a long time, never really seen this before. This is really exciting, and this is really what we can bring to any customer with our GreenLake solution.



So when we talk to your clients now, and it's all over Zoom or something like that, what are you finding that they want us to help them with, in this pandemic time? And then, how does GreenLake, specifically some of these features that we've been talking, how do they come and ease whatever difficulty they're going through, or whatever transformation they want to go through?


Yeah. We have seen, really, a tremendous interest in GreenLake because of the COVID situation we're in. Any of these firms that were maybe slow to adopt their digital technologies, or do that digital transformation, maybe they were taking a wait-and-see approach, pretty much everybody we are talking to now has realized it's full steam ahead, and that everybody is beginning to really accelerate their digital transformation.

A key part of that, a key component of that is really thinking differently about the infrastructure and underlying technologies that support those digital transformations. Just like in any cloud environment that's also seeing this interest, we're seeing that interest in GreenLake because it can support that digital transformation. It brings together the right technologies with the right consumption model, and the right experience that our clients are demanding to support that.

There's other side benefits. One of the things we see, pretty routinely, is because of the COVID environment, there is a real push to preserve capital liquidity within our almost entire enterprise client base. Everybody is taking a wait-and-see approach as we really begin to understand what a recovery or post-COVID world would look like. One of the nice things about GreenLake is it is a pay-as-you-go, or consumption based economic model. So clients don't have to write that big cap-ex check, and go buy a bunch of gear, and then start to use it and hope the recovery accelerates at the rate they expect it to, to consume that. Now with GreenLake, they can conserve that capital, they can work on their capital liquidity, and instead shift that to more of an op-ex spend, where they're only going to be spending what they need, when they need it. It gives them a very good hedge against the unknown of the COVID recovery.


That's such a good point, Erik. I was talking with, just this morning, an individual who runs, I want to say it's the largest hospital in the United States, if not the world, and he specifically is saying, "I do not know when or how we're going to come out of this pandemic." "I can't predict what my spend is going to be." He wants to ingest a lot of information that is on-premises. It's video, it's analytics, it's log files, it's streams coming in and stuff. He has no clue on the acceleration of that data that's coming in. And more importantly, he's on the business side.

So he says to me, "My IT department can't keep up when I tell them I need more stuff. I can't predict with them, but I need that flexibility." And he says, "I absolutely need to go through this process with your folks, to understand how the GreenLake process works, so that I can solve this problem." The reason is because he's looking to potentially go to public cloud, but because of so much data is on-premises, because of the PII problems, and the compliance issues and stuff like that, he says, "It just is a much lower hurdle for me to go over, during this pandemic phase, for us."


You're absolutely right, Robert. That's an excellent point.


So Erik, as we look to the future and we start evaluating that post-COVID world, and as we start accelerating into more broader and broader on-premise cloud functionality, experiences that we're bringing to our cloud ... I know we're working up the stack, we're starting to look at more solutions. I know that you're right in the middle of all that.

So, what's that future look like? I'm pretty excited about it, and I know you are, too.


Yeah, I'm very excited. If you think about where we started with GreenLake, GreenLake really was just a consumption model for compute and storage, where you could just buy storage and pay for it as you consumed it.

Over the last few years, we've moved to now providing those platforms, those VMs, those data platforms, those containers, to make it easy for clients to run their application. That's very exciting, we're able to provide that with that cloud-like experience, with the automation, with the orchestration, being able to provision a VM in four clicks on top of your GreenLake infrastructure. That's been great.

But really, what I get excited about is we go to the next level. If you think about that as the foundation, think about now how we can add that workload, that SAP workload, Those AI workloads, any of those big enterprise workloads that will sit on top. Then, we can start to provide that true SaaS, or workload-as-a-service experience within the client data center. And when you think about that in a cloud-like model, where GreenLake is supporting all of the underlying infrastructure, and middleware, and platforms, so customers don't have to worry about that. And that they can free up their people to focus on the real value added activity, the development activity, the go-to-market activity, things that are really driving top line revenue for their business, that's what really starts to get me excited about GreenLake, those types of opportunities.



So true, Erik. And I want to say, I'm super excited myself. I love working here at HPE, The depth and breadth of our technical capabilities, the legacy, the people I work with, they're all fantastic. You happen to be one of them, Erik. Thank you for joining us today.


Well thank you, Robert. It was a great conversation. Like I said, I'm very excited about GreenLake, and really excited about the potential.




I'm Robert Christiansen with HPE and the office of the CTO. This has been the HPE Tech Talk podcast, thank you for joining us and we'll catch you next time. Bye bye.



Check out HPE Tech Talk - Episode 1: with HPE CEO, Antonio Neri


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