HPE predicts what’s in store for 2021

  • January 6, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Success in 2021 will come from being edge-centric, cloud-enabled and data-driven, all at the same time, according to Kumar Sreekanti, CTO and head of software for Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

“As the chief technology officer of an iconic tech company, one of the most energising parts of my job is tracking the megatrends that shape the world today and applying them to our strategic agenda going forward,” said Sreekanti. “While no one could have predicted the disruption brought on by Covid-19 this year, early on we did foresee the way it would impact the world of technology. In fact, HPE’s CEO Antonio Neri has said the vision of the future everyone talked about before the pandemic is here now, ahead of schedule. Other tech leaders have echoed this sentiment; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said we saw two years of change in two months.”

Three years ago, HPE predicted the enterprise of the future would be edge-centric, cloud-enabled and data-driven.

“Today, that is no longer a forecast, it is reality,” said Sreekanti. “In the early days of the pandemic, our customers turned to HPE to help them move quickly to become edge-centric, and we provided them with the ability to connect all of their remote workers, customers and new devices to continue to run their businesses in a highly decentralised world.”

Some organisations, he said, had to make the critical decision of how, and to what extent, they would embrace the shift to a cloud-enabled environment. Despite their efforts to move to the public cloud, it is estimated that nearly ten years after it emerged, 70% of applications still remain outside of the public cloud due to data gravity, latency and app entanglement.

“In the next wave of digital transformation, I believe we will shift from a cloud-first mandate, to a cloud everywhere mandate,” he said. “We are at the end of the information era, which focused on generating and collecting massive amounts of data, and are now entering the age of insight. This requires new principles and priorities for digital transformation.”

He said the focus would be to build an edge-to-cloud platform that connected, protected, analysed and acted on all an organisation’s data and brought agility to apps to unlock the organisation’s full potential.

“These capabilities will be critical and unique to each organisation’s strategy, industry and customers,” he said. 

Keith White, general manager of HPE’s GreenLake cloud services, said a hybrid cloud approach used to be considered the steppingstone to a cloud-first implementation.

“Now, customers are seeing that a hybrid approach makes the most sense, both strategically for their business needs and economically,” said White.

According to IDC, 70% of users’ apps and data remain outside the public cloud.

“With that in mind, in 2021, we’ll see even more customers embrace a hybrid approach,” said White. “Due to data latency, application entanglement and security and compliance reasons, we see more and more organisations across industries wanting to keep their data on-premises. At the same time, partially due to pandemic economics, data egress charges and vendor lock-in with public cloud providers, the reality is CIOs and IT orgs are embracing hybrid as the outcome and not a means to an end.”

Keerti Melkote, president and founder of HPE subsidiary Aruba, said this year IT teams would take the next step in their transformational journey to the intelligent edge and begin to create the requisite infrastructures.

“As they do so, it won’t just be about connecting constituents to the cloud,” said Melkote, “it will be about how users and IoT devices are connected, and about using data generated at the edge to power new experiences and business outcomes.”

Of course, he said, IT teams would make these moves as the impact of Covid-19 continued to be felt and would look to the crucial capabilities the intelligent edge provided to enable organisations across all industries to support remote workers more fully, deliver the necessary capabilities that allow a safe return to the workplace, and enable business continuity initiatives.

“Then, as we progress into the post-pandemic world, the intelligent edge, combined with flexible, as-a-service consumption models, will provide organisations with the security, insights and flexibility they’ll need to adapt to and succeed in what is sure to be an incredibly dynamic business environment,” said Melkote.

On 5G, HPE vice president Phil Mottram said he expected to see telcos rapidly deploying 5G services for business in 2021.

“Consumer customers seeking faster download speeds will not cover the billions of dollars required to deploy 5G networks,” he said. “5G is about far more than faster downloads and the real revenue opportunity for telcos will come in deploying innovative new enterprise services.”

So far, he said the deployment of 5G had been focused on the radio access network (RAN), but the true value of 5G could only be realised when the RAN was combined with a 5G core network.

“We expect to see 5G core networks being introduced in 2021 that will enable slicing into virtual networks,” said Mottram. “By slicing the network into different segments, telcos can charge more to business customers for superfast speeds, or provide guaranteed low latency connectivity to autonomous vehicles. These business focused offers will enable telcos to start recouping some of the significant investment they have already made in 5G.”

He sees 5G as a “great opportunity” for telcos to deliver new cloud computing services at the edge of the network. Some applications are better suited to the edge: those that need low latencies, optimised bandwidth or particular security requirements. These apps can be hosted on cloud infrastructure hosted close to the user, such as at an enterprise office, or on street furniture.

For example, if you have a connected car communicating with a traffic light, low latency is crucial, but those data do not need to be transferred hundreds of kilometres to a cloud data centre because the information is only required for 30 seconds.

He said other applications that made sense to live at the edge included video analytics, virtual reality and gaming – data intensive applications that relied on low latency.

“Telecoms operators and cloud providers see this opportunity and are moving quickly to offer cloud services at the edge via the 5G network,” he said. “This is another crucial avenue where telcos can start to realise a return on their investment in deploying 5G.”