New HPE has perfect synergy for Digital India

Our focus on hybrid IT and intelligent edge is benefitting Indian CIOs' IT infra, says HPE India MD Som Satsangi.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has a different DNA post its split from HP. The tech giant has shed off few business lines and acquired companies like Nimble, Naira, Simplivity in the recent past. CIO India spoke with Som Satsangi, Managing Director, HPE India on the new HPE and its value proposition to Indian CIOs and CTOs in 2017 and beyond. 

You have been at the helm of HPE’S India operations for two quarters. What changes have you implemented for business growth in 2017 and beyond?
When I took over as India MD in late 2016, HPE India was doing well in the enterprise and large segments, but we were missing out on SMEs and mid-market. The competition continues to be intense in enterprise accounts. Our focus on growing bottom pyramid accounts pushes us to be more aggressive. We have beaten our internal numbers over the last couple of quarters as our run rate has improved significantly in the mid-market and SMB segment in India. 
While leading sales for over a decade at HPE, I realized that delivering committed end-to-end projects flawlessly for large customers is a challenge at times. India is all about relationships, as a well-executed project gets you reference customers. We were good at break/fix, but professional services and delighting customers happened only on priority. The directive to fix customer problems by HPE teams has led to customer delight in end-to-end delivery. 
The big focus areas in HPE’s global strategy are hybrid IT and intelligent edge. And Pointnext services will deliver end-to-end solutions from point to the datacenter of an end organization.
As HPE India was one of the fastest growing markets for HPE in Q2, 2017 also looks promising. We are pursuing right initiatives on all fronts - strategy, execution and focus. We are not focusing on an individual product category, but ensuring the growth of end-to-end product portfolio by pitching value prop to our customers. 

HPE has the largest installed pipeline of Synergy customers in APAC.

Let’s talk about HPE Synergy. Have you encountered roadblocks with Indian CIOs adopting this new concept into their IT infra? 
On the contrary, India is the leader of Synergy deployments across APAC at present. We have over eight customers including India’s largest banks, automobile companies and telcos, among others. We are also expecting their confirmation to be amplified as our reference customers. These large customers contemplating to move on prem to public cloud liked what Synergy has to offer.
The HPE OneView convertor allows multiple frames that can be controlled, and the Synergy convertor takes an image everytime you need to configure and reconfigure. HPE Synergy is a different strategy that promises a purely software defined layer on top of the metal piece configuration.
We have the largest installed pipeline of Synergy customers in APAC that’s doing phenomenally well. Initially, we thought it might take time to gain accepted but Indian CIOS are far more aware of tech trends and their benefits.   
Public cloud often includes hidden costs in the end. Does Synergy deliver clear benefits as promised to customers? 
There are no gaps. There are special features of Synergy which CIOs have liked including HPE OneView. We have spent a lot of time and money on software defined infra. Synergy’s composer helps IT leaders to configure resources and they can compose and recompose applications and workloads. For instance, the company can run one app in the morning and the same configuration for another one in the evening. It is just like a public cloud environment on the fly and it’s a scalable model. 
The challenge with CIOs using public cloud was that beyond a point, the growth, SLA, economies of scale do not work, and hence, they prefer the on prem synergy cloud. HPE is the only company with an innovative product in the market which is helping CIOs move to SDx infra. 
How has the CIO community changed over the years and what do they expect from technology providers like HPE? 
Things have moved much beyond RoI. The manufacturing industry might be more keen for RoI vis a vis a telco customer that wants us to help them expand their customer base. Be it a traditional or a contemporary enterprise, everybody is looking at overall RoI and business outcome than just the IT outcome.  
Technology solutions delivering customer delight in real time is a recurring discussion among the CIO community. Almost all large customers have started to ensure that customer acquisition, customer satisfaction and customer delight should be the focal point of infra deployment. Recently, we did a project for a large telco where they started tracking customer behavior in terms of response time by implementing our storage technology. 
We implemented the industry vertical motion in November 2015, as CIOs wanted solutions that added more value to a specific vertical. We went from regional to vertical motion.  We also created awareness among team members on the vertical-focus approach. Globally, they started this vertical –focus a year back, but HPE India had it much earlier. We are not restricting this to only the CIO teams as the HPE team and partners often deal with the CMO, CFO, LOB and business stakeholders. 
HPE has a strong presence in storage and server solutions but do you have the arsenal to compete with biggies like Cisco and Juniper in the networking domain? 
After the acquisition of Aruba, we have done fabulously well in the networking domain. We pitched the wireless power of Aruba to customers and we have started displacing Cisco in some deals. We have won some of largest city wireless projects and Wi-Fi offload projects. 

The capability of Aruba on the software side (like ClearPass) is a clear differentiator. We can go to large Cisco networks with ClearPass and NAC. One of India’s largest banks has decided to put HPE NAC on top of Cisco networking infra. Another example is the mobile-app software platform Meridian from Aruba which takes location-based applications to another level. We have a different approach towards datacenters with server and storage combined as one unit and networking as a separate line of business. 

What are the key technology trends driving business in India? 
IoT will be way ahead with the explosion of smart city and sensors. We have a universal IoT platform as we have collaborated with Tata Communications and it will impact over 400 million citizens. Embedding our software and services on Tata Comm’s Lora network will help us deploy IoT solutions in smart city and smart highway projects. 
Wi-Fi Offload is another huge opportunity with the state government passing a mandate to create zones, highways etc. Wi-Fi Offload has begun as none of the telcos can survive the rising spectrum cost in India. 
Cloud will be there for sure, but it will be more of a hybrid model. Some of the large customers in India which were on public cloud have returned to on prem. We see HPE Synergy playing an important role here. HPE Integrity Superdome X is great for critical business processing and decision support workloads. 
Then we have HPE Flexible Capacity which gives a true experience of the cloud and the customer is charged as per the consumption model. Moving forward, we feel solutions like Synergy and Flexible Capacity will be a great combination for infra of large enterprises.