In this storage supplier profile, we look at HPE. But perhaps the key thing about HPE is that it’s not just a storage company – it can offer customers all key elements in the IT stack from storage, through servers to the software that can orchestrate complex information systems.
As a company it has a clear vision of itself as a cloud-era provider. That comes largely via its Greenlake consumption model, which offers a range of subscription and as-a-service options for its products across on-prem and hybrid cloud operations.
Its storage in 2023 comprises a revamped offer, based around Alletra MP with Greenlake as an enabling mechanism.
In this article, we look at HPE’s origins, its ranking compared to other storage players, its key storage products, and its approaches to as a service, the cloud and containerisation.
Where did HPE come from?
Hewlett-Packard dates back to the 1930s, when its two founders started an electrical engineering business from a garage and then went on to do well from wartime procurement. By the end of the 2000s, it had become the world’s largest supplier of PCs, and had interests in storage, servers, network hardware, software, printers and services and consulting.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) came about in 2015 after the division of Hewlett-Packard into the PC and printers-focussed HP Inc, and HPE, which focuses on enterprise-class servers, storage, networking, containerisation and support and services.
Hewlett-Packard’s enterprise storage activity goes back to the last century, with the acquisition of SAN pioneer Transoft Networks in 1999. Storage acquisitions continued throughout the new millennium, with notable examples high-end SAN hardware player 3PAR in 2010, flash pioneer Nimble and hyper-converged infrastructure maker Simplivity in 2017, then cloud and container-focused backup and disaster recovery player Zerto in 2021.
How does HPE rank against other storage players?
HPE is 143rd in the 2023 Fortune 500 list of US companies by revenue.
In 2021, HPE was ranked second among external OEM storage suppliers by IDC, with revenue of $756.7m and a 10.4% market share for 2020.
In that, HPE fluctuates around a similar lever to NetApp and Huawei – but some way behind Dell EMC, which has top spot and around a quarter of the market.
What are HPE’s key storage products?
The past few months have seen HPE effect a rebirth of its key storage lines, and a folding in of existing 3PAR and Nimble products to a new brand, and all under the banner of Greenlake delivery and procurement models.
Core to HPE storage is the Alletra MP brand, launched in April, and coming in three series: 5000, 6000 and 9000. Alletra is based on a scale-out architecture with nodes that can be compute only – i.e. controller – or compute and storage, or even just storage capacity.
Alletra MP is deployed and managed via Greenlake, which uses customer profiles to provision, lifecycle and upgrade the service. Customers can provision clusters to file or block access. Array and backup and restore configuration come from a few clicks on a web console that takes care of all settings automatically.
Alletra 5000 provides hybrid – HDD bulk storage plus flash as cache – capacity and is at entry level, but with up to 294TB per enclosure.
Alletra 6000 offers all-NVMe flash capacity up to 368TB per enclosure.
Alletra 9000 is also all-NVMe with capacity up to 2PB per node and suitably beefed up controllers and cache.
Alletra MP is based on an all-new design that contrasts with HPE’s preceding 3PAR and Primera products.
File mode on Alletra uses Vast Data’s technology, which configures large numbers of high-capacity QLC flash drives for capacity while getting around QLC’s lower durability by smoothing out and optimising input/output (I/O) using cache-like storage-class memory (SCM).
Vast has recently launched its Vast Data Platform, which aims at creating extensive meshes of AI-ready storage for machine learning. It remains to be seen whether that also becomes part of the HPE AI offer.
What markets and workloads does HPE target?
HPE is a huge player, with a full-service offer across the board and well beyond just storage so it is able to address almost any customer need. Having said that, it is – like many vendors right now – making a big deal of AI, and its advantages in terms of the cloud, as well as its ability to offer hybrid cloud capacity and subscription and as-a-service offers via Greenlake.
How does the cloud fit HPE strategy?
HPE’s strategy fully embraces cloud approaches with several strands but also encapsulated in their push to be seen as an “edge-to-cloud company”. This includes the ability to build private clouds and hybrid clouds, and in particular with the use of Greenlake as a delivery mechanism on-prem and in the cloud (see below)
What is the HPE container strategy?
HPE builds its container storage offer around use of its Alletra storage – delivered via Greenlake – and using CSI drivers with Kubernetes and container orchestration platforms that include HPE Ezmeral, VMware Tanzu, RedHat OpenShift, SUSE Rancher and SUSE CaaSP.
Ezmeral is HPE’s Kubernetes-based container orchestration platform that allows customers to run cloud-native or traditional applications in containers without refactoring them with a high-performance distributed file system for persistent data and stateful applications.
What consumption models of purchasing does HPE offer?
Core to HPE’s push for “edge-to-cloud” is its consumption model offer, Greenlake. HPE has embarked on a journey to make its entire portfolio available as a service. By mid-2022, it had claimed to have doubled as-a-service order in a year signed up 150 customers to Greenlake, including German car giant BMW Group.
Greenlake’s offer includes:
- Greenlake for file and block, which is built on the introduction of Alletra MP and its ability to deploy capacity on-site, as part of a private cloud, but also configurable and extendable to the public cloud;
- Greenlake as-a-service offerings for backup and machine learning that work via the AWS marketplace;
- HPE GreenLake for Private Cloud Enterprise, which offers a modular infrastructure deployment of bare metal, virtual machines and container-based workloads for cloud-native and traditional applications;
- Greenlake for Private Cloud Business Edition, which allows customers to spin up VMs across the hybrid cloud.
There are also Greenlake options to run apps across on-site and public cloud using a single console with the acquisition of OpsRamp in March 2023. OpsRamp brought the capability to monitor, automate and manage IT infrastructure, cloud resources, workloads and applications for hybrid and multicloud environments, including use of the leading hyperscalers.