Inside look at HPE's next-generation infrastructure

In the 18 months since the company split from its sister consumer business, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has been in an almost constant state of refining its strategy.

The company backed out of the public cloud market; sold off its Enterprise Services Business to competitor CSC for US$8.5 billion; dealt other "non-core" assets to Micro Focus in an US$8.8 billion deal; and dumped its OpenStack and Cloud Foundry development efforts off to Suse. HPE also bought all-flash storage vendor Nimble storage for US$1 billion last month and snapped up hyperconverged infrastructure vendor Simplivity for another US$650 million in January.

So what's the common theme through all of these moves? HPE Senior Vice President and General Manager of the company's Software Defined and Cloud Group Ric Lewis said it's simple: HPE wants to own the next generation of infrastructure management. And a big part of that is what HPE is calling a whole new type of infrastructure dubbed "composable."

The big picture

HPE's overall strategy has been narrowed to focus on three core areas, Lewis said. One is hybrid IT: HPE wants to help customers build private clouds on next-generation infrastructure that integrates with public cloud resources. A second broad focus area is what Lewis calls the "Intelligent Edge," which encompass technologies related to the Internet of Things. Finally, the third pillar revolves around services and helping customers successfully execute projects in the first two areas.

One perception that HPE struggles with is the notion that it doesn't have a public IaaS cloud to compete with the likes of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. Lewis said despite public IaaS cloud getting the lion's share of attention, "that misses how important private cloud is." Private cloud and on-premises infrastructure is the market that HPE wants to own, which includes helping customers manage their use of public IaaS cloud resources. This strategy will not be easy though as a host of other legacy enterprise infrastructure vendors are vying for the same prize, including Dell-EMC, Cisco and IBM.

There is opportunity though. A recent Worldwide Infrastructure Forecast by IDC estimates that through 2020, public cloud infrastructure is set to grow at 15% compound annual growth rate; private cloud is forecast to grow at 11%. This compares to traditional IT growing at only 2%. If companies like HPE and others can offer compelling options, there is a market for enterprises to upgrade their on-premises infrastructure.