Tuesday, January 12, 2016

HPE’s Synergy: Delivering the Data Center of the Future?

By Rich Ptak

At the recent Hewlett Packard Enterprise Discover event for its European customers, HPE announced their new Synergy offering. HP spent the last year planning and implementing their split into two companies which became final at the beginning of November.

  The old company’s final financial results were such that it increased turn around pressures significantly. Be that as it may, HPE management is now free to focus exclusively on achieving business success.

 Even more positively, the Synergy offering is both a significant and good portent for the future. HPE accomplished something that we suspect few companies could match. In addition to managing the breakup, management has been able to focus on defining and delivering on a major step-up in its vision of the datacenter’s future. HPE deserves recognition for that achievement alone.  

 First, some background. Clearly, adoption of the Cloud is driving major datacenter changes. Datacenters are very stove-piped. Each group, (server, storage, networking, operations, etc.) narrowly focus on their own domain.  This originally resulted from early hardware architecture specialization. Each group has skills specific to their infrastructure/technology specialty.

 Now, add competitive and economic pressures demanding IT staffs do more with less that have increased enormously even as staff budgets and available time decreased. The result is a data center operating with serious re-enforcement of built-in inefficiencies. It is extremely rigid, routinely 
over-provisioned (to meet unpredictable demand), expensive and time-consuming to reconfigure and scale to meet changing demand.

Technology and innovations that reduce costs are highly sought after. A software-definable infrastructure is a potential solution. This is where Synergy enters the picture. It is designed to comprehensively deliver on the full promise of a fully software defined data center. The intent is to dramatically increase the flexibility to move, change and reconfigure infrastructure resources. Resulting benefits include: rapid provisioning and re-provisioning for new applications in the cloud. Today’s rigid structural boundaries decrease or are eliminated. The need for costly 
over-provisioning disappears.  Human and hardware resources become more flexible and efficient.  The vision is very attractive yielding significant organizational benefits.

 However, there exist some practical considerations and barriers to achieving it. We don’t see anything unsolvable but let’s examine some. In the first place: Where to start? What does it cost to implement? How long will it take? Is there an implementation plan template I can use?  HPE has a key role in answering these, even at this stage.

 Other issues to consider. The basic concept of Synergy challenges the datacenter’s existing stove-piped organization.  Its success requires fundamental changes in the way that many IT jobs are done. Inevitably, some will resist such changes, regarding them as job threatening. Prototype projects facing such difficulties may fail. HPE must anticipate and be prepared to resolve such objections and concerns. Their sales force must be trained to discuss how both HPE and potential customers can respond to these as well any other concerns that will inevitably arise.

 Finally, IT is already stressed. Synergy adds to that stress as it requires significant commitment and effort to succeed.  HPE should be prepared to help a client to evaluate whether or not the resources needed to succeed are present. HPE should be able to provide tools, including services for assessment, implementation planning and guidance.

 A cautionary note, today Synergy is HPE centric, built on HP’s OneView software. Initially, it will most likely appeal to those already committed to OneView. To broaden its appeal, we expect HPE will eventually extend it to other architectures. However, no such plans were discussed.

 Our opinion is that HPE Synergy holds great promise. To the extent that HPE fully understands and is prepared to deliver the effort needed to make Synergy a success, it will succeed. We’re not sure this is exactly the “Data Center of the Future” but it offers a serious vision.

We will follow its progress with great interest. For today, we recommend potential customers monitor Synergy’s development and evolution. This will allow them to determine when, and if, they want to perform a detailed evaluation. We wish good luck to HPE as they move forward.