When it comes to digital transformation, technology plays a critical role in an organization’s’ ability to evolve with the market and continually increase value to customers. There will be tremendous opportunities for digital to transform society in big, positive ways.
We talked to Vikram Kumar Yerram, Country Manager, GreenLake Cloud Services, HPE, about digital transformation, CIO challenges, etc. HPE GreenLake as a service IT solution provides greater agility and empowers customers to shift from managing infrastructure to focusing on innovation by leveraging insights from their data while eliminating capital and operating expenses tied to over-provisioning.
DQ: Elaborate on HPE GreenLake and how it is bringing cloud services to customers’ applications and data in their environment in a pay-per-use, self-service, scalable, and managed solution by HPE and its partners?
Vikram: HPE GreenLake is a portfolio as-a-service offering. The entire HPE product portfolio will be available under the GreenLake umbrella, as per our CEO, Antonio Neri, in 2019. It will be available to all our customers by the end of 2022. Right now, a lot of solutions are already available under this portfolio. This is part of HPE’s vision to become an edge-to-cloud as-a-service company.
This can be right from IaaS, which can be from simple compute and storage. Or, it can be PaaS or any outcome-as-a-service. All these solutions are available from the HPE GreenLake portfolio. We have a lot of customers already using these solutions. Earlier, we used to call this Flexible Capacity Services (FCS).
If you look at a public cloud provider like Azure, AWS, Google, etc., they are using a shared infrastructure. Customers sign up for on-demand services, or longer duration, for multiple years. The infrastructure is usually shared. They will give you compute, storage, some software, etc. It is entirely up to the customer to use these building blocks and put a solution together.
In the case of HPE GreenLake, we do not offer anything that is shared. We offer dedicated, custom-made solutions for our customers. We architect the solution specifically for customers, based on the needs. It is also based on the technology components based on your choices. Eg., from the HPE storage, you may need Primera storage, or Nimble storage, or a Proliant DL server. We architect the solution using the building blocks of the customer choices. This solution is offered to the customer on a dedicated basis. Customers also have their large data centers, or they can have co-located data centers. Sometimes, we recommend the service provider, or, it can be the customer’s choice.
The architecture is jointly held by the customer and HPE. Building blocks are decided, based on the customers’ choices. We architect the solution that is given on a dedicated basis to the customer. The customer has a self-service environment and the flexibility of paying for what he consumes. We also manage the entire environment for the customer, if required. To summarize, right from choosing the co-location partner, we are also owning the SLA, and managing the platform.
DQ: What are some major CIO challenges, which could be addressed with GreenLake?
Vikram: First, the CIO is investing in technology to deliver the business outcome for his or her organization. CIO is really the enabler for the business. In the GreenLake model, we have been able to meet the expectations of the CIO, CFO, CTO, and CEO.
The cost or the outflow is aligned to the revenue of the customer. If the revenue increases, the customer can scale up, as required. That is the first IT-business alignment.
Next, this is a dedicated service for the customer, within his own premises, or a dedicated data center, or co-located. He has complete control over the entire infrastructure. Security is among the top three challenges for the CIO. Security becomes very important. In GreenLake, security is manageable and controllable.
Within GreenLake, since the infrastructure is owned, and/or within the data center, managed and controlled by your policies, data security becomes very important.
There are also a lot of customers, and, depending on the industry, have to undergo regulatory and business compliance. Eg., if you are a bank, you can have a lot of regulatory and business compliances. We are working with a lot of pharma companies. Things are heavily regulated, and also under scrutiny.
Compliance becomes very important. Regulators don’t want any manual intervention and need everything from the system. In GreenLake, from the reporting that we provide, the compliance is from the system. Eg., patch levels, service levels, etc., that need to be applied, are easily available and automated.
The customer can see his level of compliance from one click of a button, with reference to the policies that he had laid down. Therefore, compliance is very important.
Next comes cost control. CIOs are under tremendous pressure to deliver more to the business. From a GreenLake standpoint, we provide a scalable and predictable way for the customer to forecast his costs. In the GreenLake model, for a five-year period, if the customer looks at the consumption costs, there are different bands for different consumption costs.
Eg, a customer can go to various bands, say, from 100 units in one year to say, 500 units in five years. As he moves across the bands, the price keeps coming down. The more he consumes, the lesser his price will be. If the customer goes, as per his predictions, he will definitely save money. If the customer grows faster, they will still save, as the bands are getting consumed much faster. In case, they do not grow faster, they will lose nothing, so this is a win-win situation.
There is also a single point of ownership from HPE. We own the complete setup. Right from the architecture, delivering the SLA, the availability, etc. If the customer is taking managed services, that reduces the time of his IT administrators and frees his own team to support innovation. The end-to-end responsibility and ownership of the outcome are with us.
DQ: How is the journey with SAP and Wipro coming along?
Vikram: Last year, in August 2020, we made a strategic announcement with SAP. Earlier, SAP HANA was only available as a public cloud through some service providers. They realized that not all customers are keen to go onto a cloud platform. SAP felt there is a market that needs to be served. SAP HANA is a very critical app. You would want to have it on-premises with complete control, be accountable for performance, etc.
SAP looked around, and HPE was the natural partner. We have the lion’s share of SAP’s customers. HPE and SAP decided to tie up and bring the SAP HANA enterprise cloud offering to on-prem. It’s called SAP HEC CE (HANA Enterprise Cloud Customer Edition)..
The single point of ownership is with SAP. They lead the engagement, and we support them. Under this arrangement, there are roles and responsibilities defined. SAP brings its own services, such as consulting, implementation, etc. In the background, HPE provides the entire infrastructure and services associated with it, under the GreenLake model, through SAP. The billing or invoicing happens under SAP, as a single invoice.
With Wipro, it is a global SI for us. We started with Wipro primarily to offer managed services for their customers. They had started with a pay-per-use model. They realized that with HPE GreenLake, they could see a strategic way to move forward. They have started offering a lot of services to customers on a pay-per-use model. That partnership has also kicked off in a big way. We are also working with the other SIs as well.
DQ: How can India be digitally transformed, given that most SMEs are still not on that path?
Vikram: Digital transformation means different things for different customers. It may be different for a bank, or, for a manufacturing company. The SMEs are in a niche, micro-vertical, and so, their challenges and problem statements can be very different. Eg., one SME had a unique challenge of collections.
They were making small machinery for some requirements. They were having problems with collections. Digital transformation for them meant they could create a platform to collect money from different sources. So, this is unique for different customers.
We are seeing that SMEs and mid-market players, have aspirations to go big, and have large customers in their own fields. They are looking at the end-to-end transformation from their end. Eg., from IT infrastructure.
They are looking to create blueprints. HPE offers to be a perfect partner with them. We look at the customers’ roadmap for the next few years from a business standpoint. Then we create an IT blueprint from that business standpoint. Underlying the infrastructure can be added on the GreenLake so that the customer has a scalable, predictive model. As the business grows, the customer is also able to grow his IT.
DQ: How is HPE committed to delivering its entire portfolio as a service by the end of 2022?
Vikram: Right now, we have almost all of our products available. By 2022, we will also be looking at most of the workloads being consumed by the customers. We are definitely on that path. We keep making announcements on a periodic basis. We have, under the HPE GreenLake for outcome-based solutions, compute, storage and network.
We also have a backup as a service. We have SAP HANA as a service available. We have AI/ML-based solutions as an outcome. We have VDI-based solutions with many partners, such as VMware, Citrix, etc.
We also announced the high-performance computing platform last month (Dec. 2020). A lot of customers are looking at HPC-based solutions for big decision-making. They have a lot of data and are wanting to churn that do some AI/ML work and derive some meaningful insights. All of these are available from HPE Greenlake. The kind of opportunity that we see ahead is significantly large. We want to be a sizable player.
DQ: About HPE Greenlake India customer references.
Vikram: We have a lot of Indian customers. We have customers in the financial services sector, and banks. We also have customers in the manufacturing, pharma, domains, and startups, etc. So, we have a range of customers.
One name is Assemblage Entertainment, which is into animation. You get a post-production requirement that will keep you occupied for some months. We have another customer into electronic payment services. They are providing financial and banking services. Most of their customers are banks, etc. They also felt that since they are offering everything as a service to customers, they realized the strategic value that we bring.