HPE Targets Telcos with 5G Tools

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By: Mary Jander

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co. (NYSE: HPE) boosted its GreenLake “as-a-service” strategy today by unveiling new 5G products aimed at telcos. The move shows a clear understanding of the coming 5G tectonic shift.

The new HPE offerings are branded as part of the company’s GreenLake initiative, which uses a cloud delivery model to sell storage, virtualization, high-performance computing (HPC), backup, Hadoop data networking, and other IT services, paid for by metered usage. Today, HPE claims over 100 GreenLake customers, accounting for 48% growth in GreenLake service orders last quarter.

What’s New for HPE's 5G?

The announcement today includes the following products aimed specifically at service providers looking to build and capitalize on 5G infrastructure:

  • A cloud-native 5G Core Stack, integrated with hardware but offered as a service, which generates a 5G network from scratch, avoiding any need to rework existing 4G facilities.
  • An edge-optimization platform supporting virtual radio access networking (vRAN) and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC). This solution works either at the telco’s edge or at the enterprise equivalent.
  • Cloud-native support for HPE’s existing Aruba Air Slice and Air Pass, which let cellular subscribers equipped with HPE gear to roam enterprise WiFi (and access IoT devices) without having to log in or change passwords.
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Notably, HPE is tying these new capabilities in with Aruba Central, the company's artificial intelligence-equipped network operations, security, and orchestration platform for use with all the wireless and SD-WAN gear HPE offers through its Aruba subsidiary.

Part of A Cloud Plan

This latest announcement is part of HPE's goal to move to a predominantly subscription-based business and away from licensing hardware and software to individual IT customers.

As stated in HPE’s SEC filings and press materials: “Our long-term strategy is focused on leveraging our portfolio of hardware, software and services as we deliver global edge to cloud platform-as-a-service.”

The announcement also shows HPE’s confidence that telcos are key to 5G emergence. While many telcos may have been slow on the SD-WAN and virtualization uptake, they will play an important role in building out the global 5G networks eyed as the future of enterprise IT.

HPE and other IT suppliers, such as Cisco, Fortinet, and Dell, see opportunity in supplying the “mobile edge cloud” for telcos who have lost traction to cloud suppliers such as AWS, Equinix, and Microsoft. As these providers move toward orchestrated virtual environments instead of struggling with increasingly complicated network buildouts and add-ons, they in turn will offer over over-the-top (OTT) services to customers in a range of verticals.

5G Interoperability Is Key

Today’s announcement also shows HPE’s support for standards in 5G and related technologies, which is vital to supplying a range of IT services flexibly and quickly.

In this spirit of cooperation, HPE also demonstrated late in 2019 a 5G interoperability test with Samsung and Openet. A similar edge networking partnership was shown last month by systems integrator World Wide Technology and partners MobiledgeX, VMware, QiO, and Altiostar.

Interoperability may also enable customers to replace networking gear from Huawei as trade difficulties continue.

Big Data and Retail Focus

Telcos are just one target of HPE’s strategy. Others include retailers, users of big data storage, and HPC customers.

And HPE no doubt will continue to charge hard as it fights for its spot in the digitally transformed business world: Last quarter, revenues of $6.9 billion were down 7% year-over-year, and revenues from compute, storage, and financial services were down 15%, 7%, and 6%, respectively — all blamed on component supply chain problems, coronovirus, and macro uncertainties.

Still, sales of intelligent edge and HPC/mission-critical systems products and services were up 4% and 6% respectively. And today’s announcement plays to those strengths.