Partnership announcements at HPE Discover may signal strategy change

While HPE typically uses Discover to announce its latest and greatest, news from HPE Discover in London this year included the names of several other vendors.  It was a year of partnerships for the company.  But that comes after the company has a lot of explaining to do.  The blogger sessions that I took part in, it was clear that a lot of explanation was needed concerning the “spin-merge” of Enterprise Services out with CSC and the sale of its software application assets to MicroFocus.

With both of these transactions, HPE is retaining strategic partnerships with both companies.  In terms of services, Meg Whitman has publicly said that customers will not see any interruption in the services provided and that all that will be changing is the logo on the invoice for customers.  For HPE, it has a focused strategic partner for outsourcing and consulting.  When talking software, HPE has a partnership with MicroFocus to continue to sell its software and OEM some of its products in bundles of software.  According to The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/08/uk-micro-focus-hewlett-packard-software-deal), HPE shareholders will own 50.1% of the new combined company.

HPE and Arista Networks announced more partnerships for the benefits of its mutual customers with cloud-focused networking.  After a re-org within HPE, cloud-networking with Arista will belong to the Data Center Infrastructure Group (DCIG) while all of HPE’s other networking assets transition under the Software-Defined and Cloud Group (SDCG).  Those other assets include Aruba, the 3Com acquired assets and the traditional ProCurve line of networking.

The Arista Networks announcement is interesting to me – because it isn’t a no-brainer type of announcement.  This is strategic about providing cloud-centric networking to its customers – a niche it doesn’t have in its own portfolio, even though there is overlap.  The HPE of old (yes, that is funny for a year old company!) would be closely aligned and vowing allegiance to its own portfolio, but a decoupled entity is able to do what is best for its customers.

In the same vein, HPE announced a deeper partnership with Veeam.  In addition to the existing partnership points between Veeam’s backup and recovery software and HPE’s storage lines, HPE is now going in as a Veeam reseller – so that customers can buy the entire package solution directly from HPE.

Veeam has been a great partner to HPE, implementing deep integration points for its flagship backup and recovery product with the storage lines of HPE – both the 3PAR StoreServ and StoreVirtual storage platforms and the StoreOnce deduplicating disk-to-disk arrays.  Veeam has even gone as far as implementing support for Catalyst, HPE’s proprietary protocol for backups on StoreOnce.

HPE, on the other hand, was not quick to embrace Veeam entirely – because of overlapping products in its own portfolio.  These assets are being spun out of the company with the sale of its software applications to MicroFocus.  This divestiture allows the new, new HPE to partner with best-of-breed backup software that tightly integrates with its hardware.

It seems that no company can be everything to everyone and execute on that strategy well.  Strategic partnerships with smaller, innovative companies may be a path to greater success for the company, which has struggled with direction in recent years.

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Philip is a IT solutions engineer working for AmWINS Group, Inc., an insurance brokerage firm in Charlotte, NC. With a focus on data center technologies, he has built a career helping his customers and his employers deploy better IT solutions to solve their problems. Philip holds certifications in VMware and Microsoft technologies and he is a technical jack of all trades that is passionate about IT infrastructure and all things Apple. He's a part-time blogger and author here at Techazine.com.

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