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June 8, 2016

HPE sells hybrid vision with Dropbox, as CEO Meg Whitman talks digital transformation

Analysis: Containers, IoT, servers, and big data were all put in the spotlight for the Discover conference keynote.

By James Nunns

HPE held its annual Discover conference in Las Vegas this week with the two hour long keynote on day one barely seeming like enough time for the company to detail how it is helping businesses with digital transformation.

HPE has made it clear over the past two Discover events that transformation is in its blood; the split of the HP into two companies has, in its opinion, made it the perfect fit for any business that is going through a transformation itself.

This is why Meg Whitman, CEO of HPE, spent two hours going through just some of the ways it is, and can, help businesses.

The keynote was as polished as ever from the company CEO which over the past couple few years has gone through foundational changes, but Whitman was keen to impress on the 10,000 attendees and 175,000 watching online, that the company can fit any businesses requirements.

Whitman jumped from cloud, to edge devices, on to the Internet of Things, big data, the data centre, security, and back as she outlined areas where the company was revealing new advancements, upgrades, and partnerships.

As is typical of keynote conferences there was a mix of customers with the likes of Boeing, Home Depot and Dropbox all making an appearance and one of the stand-out themes was that of data.

Boeing for example is using the Apollo 8000 system for high performance computing as it looks to deal with half a terabyte of data that is dropped every time one of its planes lands. The New York Genome Centre was another example of a big data challenge, with the centre working with 12TB of data generated everyday and three to four times that being stored after analysis each day.

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These are examples of how HPE is providing the tools on the analytics front but also dealing with massive scale.

One of the key customer examples was that of Dropbox, the file collaboration company that recently opted to move away from Amazon Web Services to run its own infrastructure, turned to HPE to help it build its new infrastructure.

Here, HPE became a little bullish about its hybrid cloud vision with Antonio Neri, EVP, GM, Technology Services, HPE, saying "Dropbox realised off the shelf and one size fits all did not fit requirements."

This isn’t so much a stab at AWS or public cloud, it is more of a reaffirming of the company’s belief that hybrid cloud is the future and the best fit for organisations.

The work with Dropbox is clearly a big customer win for HPE and it helped the company to highlight its newly attained number one position in the server market, beating Dell and EMC, according to IDC.

In previous years the bullish nature of HPE had somewhat been diminished, a huge transformation and a struggling company left little to be shouting about, but now the company feels like it has got its mojo back.

The competitive spirit was highlighted by Robert Youngjohns, GM Software, HPE, challenging IBM’s Watson with HPE’s Haven on Demand, machine learning and AI style system, he said that he wanted to take on Watson "API to API."

Amid the competitive talk, HPE took time to highlight its ability to work with other vendors. A newly announced partnership with Docker will bring the Docker container engine to all of HPE’s Servers. The company’s partnership with Microsoft was yet again highlighted as Microsoft’s CISO Bret Arsenault appeared on stage to talk about how it is using HPEs security products to help protect itself and its customers.

On more than one occasion there felt like a bit of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back’ but the relationship between vendors can be complimentary and competitive at the same time.

Throughout all of the partnerships, product developments, and fighting talk, the message remained the same, that HPE is the best partner to help a digital transformation.

Whitman said that "digital transformation is more than an abstract concept," and that they are "poised to make more progress in the next five years than we have in the past 50."

The message is clear, HPE wants to be the leader when it comes to digital transformation.

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