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5 Things You Need To Know About HPE’s Machine-Learning BlueData Platform

Steven Burke

HPE is tripling down on its artificial intelligence/machine-learning BlueData big data as a service bet, says Patrick Osborne, HPE’s vice president and general manager of big data.

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A New Integrated HPE Apollo-BlueData Pointnext Services Offering

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Tuesday unleashed a new version of its artificial intelligence BlueData big data as a service offering that runs on high-performance Apollo systems backed up by HPE Pointnext deployment services.

With the new offering, HPE said BlueData software subscriptions can be ordered with HPE Apollo server and storage infrastructure in a variety of configurations. The new offering is available in the U.S., U.K./Ireland, Germany, France and Singapore.

What’s more, HPE Vice President and General Manager of Big Data Patrick Osborne told CRN that the hybrid IT powerhouse will continue to support its artificial intelligence-based BlueData big data as a service offering on rival Dell EMC servers.

“Our Dell EMC Select contract is still in place and is still valid,” said Osborne in an interview with CRN. “We have a number of customers that had a relationship with Dell before the acquisition. We continue to support those customers and expand them. … We have to be agnostic.”

In fact, HPE said it is committed to a multivendor infrastructure and multi-cloud environments.

HPE also said it plans to deliver reference architectures for a variety of artificial intelligence/machine-learning environments including Cloudera, Apache Kafka, Apache Spark, H2O and TensorFlow.

HPE Is Tripling Down On Its BlueData Investment

HPE is tripling the investment in R&D and sales and go-to-market enablement around the BlueData acquisition, which was completed in December, said Osborne.

In fact, Osborne said the BlueData is the kind of breakthrough innovation that is the hallmark of a fast-moving HPE.

“We are tripling all the functions of BlueData within from an investment perspective,” he said.

Key to that investment is the support of HPE CEO Antonio Neri, who sees BlueData as a major competitive advantage in the AI and machine-learning data center race.

“Antonio is very involved in opening doors and opportunities, making sure we are successful in our logo acquisition, the implementation of the platform, and scaling it within HPE,” said Osborne.

HPE BlueData Will Continue To Support Dell EMC Server Offerings 

HPE will continue to support its AI-based BlueData big data as a service offering on Dell EMC servers, said Osborne.

“Our Dell EMC Select contract is still in place and is still valid,” said Osborne in an interview with CRN. “We have a number of customers that had a relationship with Dell before the acquisition. We continue to support those customers and expand them. …We have to be agnostic.”

Making the BlueData big data as a service offering available in multiple clouds and heterogenous data center environments is a matter of “listening to customers” who are demanding hybrid cloud solutions and then supporting those customers in a “manner that is based in reality,” said Osborne. “Data centers are heterogenous with a hybrid, private and public cloud strategy that we need to support,” he said.

HPE Is Planning A Version Of BlueData On GreenLake

HPE is working on a version of BlueData for GreenLake later in the year, said Osborne.

With estimates that 40 percent of enterprise IT infrastructure spending will be consumption-based by 2020, HPE has changed the on-premises pay-per-use profit proposition for partners with an unprecedented 17 percent up-front rebate on the initial committed value of the multi-year deals.

The beauty of HPE GreenLake Flex Capacity–which provides a public-cloud-like experience on- premises—is that it gives partners the ability to add their own managed services and to control margin and pricing for the life of the contracts, which run from three to 10 years. Partners make recurring revenue monthly for the term of the contract.

One of the secrets to HPE’s success with GreenLake—which grew in the channel at a 300 percent clip in the most recent quarter—is HPE's Cloud Cruiser software metering platform and portal. That real-time portal provides detailed insight aimed at driving big cost savings by continually right-sizing a customer's IT environment.

HPE Is Recruiting Partners For Its Big Data As A Service Offering

HPE said the new offering signals a partner recruitment offensive aimed at driving high-margin, recurring revenue big data opportunities for the channel, said Osborne.

“BlueData in the past hasn’t been a big channel-heavy play because it was a small company, but we are looking to expand in those key five countries we are doing business in,” he said.

For partners making a big investment in AI and machine-learning solutions, BlueData represents a “great way for them to get into a very constructive dialogue with their customers around data strategy, container strategy and the path to Kubernetes,” said Osborne.

Initially, HPE partners will be able to resell the Pointnext services with a plan down the road to get partners to do BlueData software delivery. “We are looking for data-centric, up-stack partners who want to make an investment in this area,” said Osborne.

Currently, there are a number of systems integrators including Accenture, Deloitte and DXC Technology that are helping with BlueData architecture and projects, said Osborne.

“The message is if you have an AI and data science and you are in the five countries we are doing business in, we absolutely want you to be participating in the HPE channel with this technology stack,” Osborne said.

The key customer demographic target is Fortune 500 and Global 2000 customers who are pushing the big data technology envelope. “These are larger companies with an established analytics practice with data scientists in more technology-forward verticals like financial services, health care, pharma, manufacturing and automotive,” said Osborne.

HPE BlueData Moves Partners Into High-Value, High-Margin Territory

With AI and machine learning transforming every industry, the BlueData big data as a service offering is a high-margin opportunity for partners.

“This is a big opportunity and it’s sticky,” said Osborne. “It’s a combination of services, subscription software and it drags a big platform sale. It’s a land-and-expand methodology that starts with a pilot to prove out a couple of application stack scenarios for a customer.”

The key for partners is proving out the “big data” value proposition and then expanding it into additional solution offerings. “It’s a cyclical, sticky sales cycle,” said Osborne. “You are able to grow the use cases and build a platform for data scientists, analysts and data engineers within the customer. It’s a land-and-expand opportunity.”

Ultiamtely, the BlueData opportunity opens the door for partners to move higher up the solutions stack to tap into high-value, line-of-business strategic applications.

“This is on the front end of the budget cycle for customers,” said Osborne. “Customers are creating budget to put very high-value, highly impactful projects together based on AI, analytics and big data. BlueData for us represents the ability to take those applications that run in containers and unlock the potential of some really key resources for customers with data scientists, data analysts and data engineers. For partners to be relevant in this space, they have to be well-versed in those technologies and change their business to cater to the customer needs in a very data-centric world.”

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