Small and medium-sized businesses have embraced the public cloud because of its cost, storage and security features. However, if SMBs want to be nimble in a fast-changing world, they should consider a “hybrid IT” model that gives them the benefits of public cloud in an on-premises environment, according to Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman.
Speaking to reporters and industry analysts at the HPE Discover 2017 conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Whitman argued that hybrid IT is “highly relevant” to small businesses that often lack IT resources. That’s because it’s flexible and can be scaled up or down to meet their computing, storage and networking needs.
“The notion of hybrid IT is very, very relevant for small-to-medium business,” she said. “Often, they don’t have technology talent or the IT department inside that a big company” would have, she added.
As a result, small businesses are looking for ways to make their IT footprint “more nimble, more agile,” she said.
“How do they shrink time to value for mobile apps or whatever their newest thing is?” Whitman asked. “And frankly, I think hybrid IT is highly relevant to them.”
Small businesses, she continued, will want to keep some of their applications on-premises, or at least in a private cloud. “But you may have a multicloud strategy, where there are some apps” in Microsoft Azure or other public cloud providers, Whitman said.
HPE’s channel partners, like CDW, tell Whitman that hybrid IT “is as relevant to strategy for small business, as well as the federal government and [state, local and education], as it is for the enterprise.”
Whitman did not deny that “there are workloads moving to the public cloud” from on-premises data centers, and that migration is showing up in the financial performance of public cloud vendors. “What we are seeing is actually a slowdown in that movement to the public cloud for a whole host of reasons,” Whitman said.
Many businesses are facing what Whitman calls the “cloud cliff,” in which, for reasons of security, control, cost or flexibility, “people are rethinking what the right mix is for their company.”
Whitman added that when companies put their data in public clouds, it can be a bit like the Eagles’ song “Hotel California.”
“You check in, you do not check out,” she said. “And if you try to check out, it is immensely expensive and it takes a long period of time.”
HPE thinks that, as a result, “the world is going to be hybrid,” and it wants to make hybrid IT simpler through its hyperconverged infrastructure, which was made stronger by HPE’s $650 million purchase of SimpliVity earlier this year, as well as HPE Synergy, its composable infrastructure solution.
“There are applications that absolutely will go to the public cloud,” Whitman said. “But there are also a lot of applications that, as we create the ability to have private cloud on-prem at public cloud economics, both from a total cost of ownership and a consumption-based pricing model, many organizations are going to choose to have those same economics with the same agility on-prem as opposed to moving to the public cloud.”
Earlier this week, HPE announced an exclusive partnership with ClearCenter, an open-source platform provider, to offer ClearOS, a Linux-based operating system, on HPE ProLiant servers: “Tailored to fit the IT needs of small and medium businesses by consolidating server, gateway and networking functionality, HPE and ClearCenter deliver a powerful IT solution with a simple web-based user interface and a built-in application marketplace, making IT deployments for SMBs simple, secure and economical.”
Noting that IT for small businesses is often complex, with conflicting technology choices and trade-offs, HPE stated that it is joining forces with ClearCenter “to help channel partners deliver cloudlike simplicity and on premise security in one affordable solution that will grow with the business.”
HPE also announced new servers for SMB customers, including the new ProLiant MicroServer, as part of its Gen 10 server portfolio. Designed specifically for the small office/home office market, the ProLiant MicroServer Gen 10 boasts several upgrades, including AMD graphics embedded in the chip, enabling high-resolution applications like media streaming; dual DisplayPort connectors, equipping two monitors with 4K resolution; and optional graphics processing support on a PCIe slot, which allows users to connect a total of five monitors to the MicroServer or a five-screen extended display.