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HPE's Whitman grows hyper for hyper-converged

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is planning to go after Nutanix and other hyper-converged vendors with an appliance based on its ProLiant server line.

HPE CEO Meg Whitman revealed the vendor’s hyper-converged plans during its quarterly earnings call Thursday night. It was part of her promise to deliver innovative products in storage and other areas.

She said the new hyper-converged announcement will come this month. Whitman said the system will “offer customers installation in minutes, a consumer-inspired simple mobile array user experience, and automated IT operations. All at 20 percent lower cost than Nutanix.”

Whitman predicted the new system will make HPE a major player in what she identified as a $5 billion hyper-converged market. Nutanix is considered the market leader, although VMware claims it has more customers for its Virtual SAN (VSAN) hyper-converged software.

HPE sells hyper-converged appliances based on its aging StoreVirtual technology acquired from LeftHand Systems. HP briefly signed on as a VMware EVO: Rail partner, but quickly dropped out of that VSAN OEM program.

Whitman said all the technology for the new hyper-converged system is developed by HPE.

“We’re quite excited about this,” Whitman said. “The hyper-converged market is big. It’s growing fast. It’s also getting pretty crowded. You’ve seen a lot of announcements over the last couple of months, but we very much like this product from a side-by-side comparison and features and functionality to our competitors.”

During the call, Whitman said the HPE “innovation engine is firing on all cylinders,” with products coming in many enterprise areas including all-flash storage.

The earnings report was the first for HPE since the HP split, but the same old story for storage. Overall storage revenue fell three percent year over year, but 3PAR array revenue grew 21%. CFO Timothy Stonesifer said revenue from 3PAR all-flash systems more than doubled from a year ago. And despite the overall revenue decline, HPE executives claim they gained overall market share.

Whitman held up 3PAR’s all-flash array as an example of the type of innovation she expects to see from the vendor going forward. Whitman said she favors home-grown products to acquisitions. She actually cited 3PAR as an example of both “internally homegrown” technology as well as a good acquisition.

“The benefit of doing organic innovation is you don’t end up with a Frankenstein of architectures,” she said. “The second choice would be acquisitions that look like 3PAR, 3Com and Aruba that have been very successful acquisitions for us. They are additional complementary technology.”