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Everything-as-a-Service: Understanding HPE GreenLake

One of the key takeaways from HPE Discover was undoubtedly HPE GreenLake, perhaps one of HPE’s most misunderstood products in the past. We took part in several presentations related to GreenLake, which helped us understand better the product as well as HPE’s strategy.

Strategic Vision: HPE-as-a-Service

GreenLake is the embodiment of HPE’s shift towards a service-based consumption model across all of its business lines. As outlined by CEO Antonio Neri during the keynote, HPE strategy is to make all of its products and offerings available “as a service” by end of 2022, making GreenLake one of the key deliverables of this vision.

GreenLake was originally introduced in 2018 as a hybrid cloud service, but remained as a kind of foggy offering until the HPE Discover 2020 keynote, at least for us at TECHunplugged.

It’s difficult to say if GreenLake will eventually become “HPE-as-a-Service”, but before the keynote, GreenLake supported core compute services as well as networking. At the 2020 virtual HPE Discover event, support for cloud and edge workloads was also announced.

Exploring GreenLake

GreenLake provides support for traditional on-premises compute workloads such as Virtualization, VDI, and a few more. It also supports cloud native applications and machine learning, plus persistent storage capabilities.

The offering range is quite broad and based on modular, pre-configured and workload-optimized building blocks that can be shipped in as few as 14 days to an organization’s premises. Currently a total of 17 services are available in small, medium and large configurations.

A true online configurator is available here (US site, make sure to change to your locale). Organizations can size and customize their GreenLake setup, until they are brought to the point where they can submit the configuration for pricing to HPE. We haven’t unfortunately been able to configure any of the GreenLake services and get a public, transparent pricing (as claimed by HPE on their pages), but perhaps that will change.

Schematic overview of the HPE GreenLake solution

Managed cloud services are also part of the offering. These services allow organizations to benefit from cloud economics (pay per use, elastic scalability, instant resource availability) without having to cope with the downsides of cloud operations. Another important point is no charges on egress data transfers. The devil is in the details, and many organizations running on public clouds have learned the hard way egress charges.

Perhaps it’s worth repeating that cloud workloads need to be adequately secured, that data / regulatory compliance needs to be ensured and that operating vanilla cloud services requires skilled individuals an skillset realignment. HPE GreenLake takes those pain points away and allows organizations to smoothly transition at their own pace from on-premises operations to an hybrid operational model.

A view of cloud services offered by HPE GreenLake as of June 2020

Collaborative Approach

Having some pre-configured HPE servers and switches is nice, but without software integrations and supports from other vendors, GreenLake would just be a different way of paying for a bunch of bare metal systems.

HPE engaged with their partners to build a “GreenLake Ecosystem” where various well-established vendors provide support for GreenLake or adapted their solution to operate within this pay as you go model. Notable partners are Microsoft, VMware, SAP HAHA, Nutanix, Veeam, Commvault and more (including Google and Amazon), but also some storage providers such as Cohesity and Scality to name a few.

TECHunplugged’s Opinion

Thanks to the latest announcements at HPE Discover, we finally understood what GreenLake is about, how it fits into HPE’s strategy, but most importantly why it makes sense. Retrospectively, it made sense even a year ago, but somehow the value or rationale wasn’t explained properly, or missing components / building-blocks made the value difficult to perceive.

This feeling is now gone with the completeness of the offering. HPE GreenLake seems to be so far the only coherent and comprehensive pay as you go, on-premises / hybrid infrastructure play that we have seen on the market. Besides the broad spectrum of service offerings, customization capabilities and support of edge / core / cloud locations all play in HPE’s favor.

However, GreenLake still remains focused on the infrastructure. Combining GreenLake and HPE Ezmeral (to be covered in a future post) should deliver optimal value to organizations. We will probably also cover other points such as the economics of the solution, length of contract (currently around 4 years based on the online sizing tool) and also other cost savings organizations can achieve. We might eventually cover HPE’s commitment vs. their competitors (in terms of financial services capabilities).

Until then stay tuned, relax, and grab a drink of your choice. But do it “as-a-service”. It’s the future, we’re told!