Hardware vendors are pushing initiatives that will eventually allow them to offer access to their products as-a-Service.
- HPE was the first with HPE GreenLake, announced in 2019.
- Dell Technologies followed shortly behind with its Apex project that it announced in 2020, which will provide customers with cloud-like capabilities such as agility and scalability.
- Cisco Systems and Pure Storage are developing their own projects that will offer consumption-based access to their own data centers.
Unlike its competition, HPE made a new announcement for a platform that is an alternative to the standard hybrid cloud—and the first of its kind from any major manufacturer. The recently announced GreenLake Lighthouse platform brings a cloud-native infrastructure to applications and data, regardless of their physical location.
How HPE GreenLake Evolved
HPE announced in 2019 that it would use its GreenLake hybrid cloud platform to make its entire portfolio available as-a-Service by the next year. The company has steadily developed GreenLake’s capabilities since then, including the addition of its Nimble Storage disaggregated hyperconverged infrastructure (dHCI) in 2020.
HPE also deployed Ezmeral during that same period, which is a software suite designed for modern workloads such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and data analytics. This capability places Ezmeral in closer competition with other Kubernetes offerings such as Red Hat’s OpenShift and VMware’s Tanzu.
GreenLake was HPE’s focus at the virtual Discover 2021 event held in June 2021, including the Lighthouse Platform and Project Aurora. HPE also wants to continue pushing its advantage in the as-a-Service space, which is becoming increasingly competitive.
HPE president and CEO Antonio Neri spoke with journalists before Discover saying, “GreenLake is the North Star of everything we do in the company.” He went on to add that his company is focused on maintaining its current market leadership through experience rather than technology. Neri also cited HPE’s extensive investment in software layers, primarily for the purpose of maintaining its original vision in Flex Capacity.
What is HPE GreenLake Lighthouse?
HPE’s new addition, GreenLake Lighthouse provides a pre-integrated, purpose-built hardware/software platform that delivers GreenLake Cloud Services. With this platform, HPE can provide customers with a unified foundation (Proliant servers, Nimble storage, Aruba Networks switches) that can be deployed in the data center, on the edge, or in a colocation facility, all managed via GreenLake Central, and supported by ComportSecure. Additionally, HPE is already looking to provide future integration with public cloud services offered through GreenLake Central.
HPE Lighthouse encompasses an infrastructure that provides compute, networking and storage capabilities as well as the Ezmeral software platform that runs on top of it. It also includes other features such as automation, metering, and orchestration.
Kumar Sreekanti, HPE’s chief technology officer, describes Lighthouse as a cloud platform specifically designed to run distributed applications in data centers, co-location facilities and the edge of the cloud. He also says that it’s API-driven with a modular, flexible design, allowing it to expand elastically.
HPE as-a-Service–From Traditional Compute to the Cloud
The increasing distribution of IT and business infrastructure is driving GreenLake’s development, just as it is with all other as-a-Service platforms. The pandemic accelerated this trend, resulting in the current business environment that typically includes multiple colocation facilities providing both cloud and edge computing. Applications are also distributed throughout these locations, with team members frequently working outside the traditional office environment in geographically separate locations.
Keith White, senior vice president and general manager of HPE’s GreenLake Cloud Services, reported in a recent press briefing that this approach appears to be working for his company. GreenLake users currently include 1,200 enterprises with a total contract value of almost $5 billion. He added that the customer retention rate of GreenLake Cloud Services is nearly 97%, resulting in a 30% increase in GreenLake’s recurring revenue for the most recent fiscal quarter.
White also discussed the effect of the cloud on user expectations, saying that this digital transformation has allowed them to make decisions on data and monetize those decisions. This shift has made it more important than ever for users to have a set of platforms that allow them to analyze data. White added that the expectations of a public cloud are causing many organizations with on-premise infrastructure to migrate to the cloud, which is where GreenLake is most effective.
HPE GreenLake Zero-Trust Security
Project Aurora will provide GreenLake’s cloud services with cloud-native, zero-trust security. This technology will be embedded throughout GreenLake, beginning with Lighthouse. This design will automatically ensure the integrity and security of GreenLake’s components, including applications, hardware and operating systems. Silver Peak also has a zero-trust framework, which HPE bought for $925 million in 2020.
HPE began developing its zero-trust effort with Lighthouse after it also acquired Scytale in that same year. Sreekanti adds that his team is still working out the details of extending Scytale’s zero-trust capabilities into other products. He also expressed confidence that they would be able to provide GreenLake users with cohesive integration of zero-trust security.
HPE Cloud Console
HPE introduced its Compute Cloud Console in May 2021, which is a cloud-based management service that automates an enterprise’s compute capabilities. It will join HPE’s existing console lineup that includes Connectivity Console and Data Services Console. All three consoles are based on Aruba Central, which supports over a million networked devices with more than 100,000 users.
Additional Updates from Discover 2021
HPE also discussed its latest partnerships at Discover 2021, including the acquisition of Determined AI. This asset provides an ML-based software platform that trains AI models at scale, helping GreenLake users deploy AI workloads more easily. HPE plans to combine Determined AI with its own high-performance computing portfolio.
Neri referred to Determined AI as “a small acquisition, but very symbolic of what we see in the market.” He added that it provides HPE with a focus on AI and ML that customers can easily adopt. These capabilities have historically presented several challenges to widespread adoption such as the expertise it typically requires to implement. This is a key area in which ComportSecure supports customers. Users also need to perform extensive data preparation and develop the right algorithms to use that data.
The Determine AI stack is based on the best foundation technologies, which HPE can integrate on a massive scale by using technology from its Cray acquisition. The Cray Programming Environment provides HPE with the means to program applications for AI, big data and modeling. HPE places Determined AI on top of this environment, allowing it to deploy its training models more easily.
HPE is also partnering with Intel to create Silicon On-Demand, which will allow enterprises to access Optane’s persistent memory based on a consumption payment model. This capability will let organizations scale their compute on demand, so they only pay for the resources they use. HPE also unveiled other partnerships at Discover 2021, including one with Microsoft that will provide Azure Stack HCI and SQL Server with GreenLake support.
A partnership with Nutanix will develop a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution, which has become a standard means of working remotely since the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional partnerships that HPE is pursuing include Qumulo for unstructured data management and Vecam for data protection.
Positioning GreenLake Lighthouse for Growth
HPE isn’t finished with its development of GreenLake, according to Neri. He made it clear that GreenLake would eventually become better known than HPE as the two names become synonymous in the cloud services market. The firm’s CEO added that GreenLake would become HPE’s leading product and learning experience such that all other capabilities would be part of that experience, including Connectivity-as-a-Service, workload optimization, AI and ML.
As an HPE Platinum Partner, Comport is well-positioned to help organizations review their HPE options and select the solutions that are right for their organization. Get started with a Cloud Readiness Assessment performed by our in-house technology experts.