The Anti-Gestalt of The Machine
The parts are greater than the whole.
I was so very fortunate to have been able to fly over the pond to attend the big European version of HPE Discover last week. My appreciation to Calvin Zito ( @CalvinZito ) Chris Purcell ( @Chrispman01 ) and the social media team from HPE for the invitation.
Also, while there, I was invited by @ChrisMEvans and @Storagebod to be a guest on their fine podcast “Storage Unpacked” along with another guest, the incredible @GoFarley. Here is a link to the recording. Hey Now!
I saw so many interesting things from this organization still transitioning from their big monolithic entity to this new version, leaner, more efficient, and with some interesting changes; for example, the selling off of the Software entities to Micro Focus, and the professional services group being moved outward to CSC. There are many speculations as to why this may have occurred, but in my opinion, this has more to do with focus, and the desire to make what is a huge organization operate more efficiently, and to direct its efforts into the core technology to which it has relied most heavily.
I’ve written previously about the spectrum of products starting with the Hyper-Converged HC380, running upward through the Synergy platform, and ultimately up to “The Machine.” The latter has received huge press, with television advertising and product placement the likes of which I cannot recall ever seeing from Hewlett Packard. However, The Machine is no longer the large entity it once was. There had been many technical goals and approaches sought after in the product. Photonics is a good example. The tech in this sub-category allows for data transmission within a system leveraging lasers to move this data at transfer rates not even functional in cables. It may be seen as enabling, and it truly has been a functional breakthrough. Photonics, as a project, is not abandoned. It will still be developed for use in other systems moving forward, but its use in The Machine is no more.
One speculates that the entire Machine project, from HPE Labs was more of a grand experiment put together by a group of forward thinking engineers, and may never have been intended to end up as an entity, but rather these discrete components were intended to prove a concept. One may also consider that the actual use case of a project of this magnitude could not have really generated enough interest, or use-cases. The salvage of some of its tech from the parts was an intelligent choice. I choose not to speculate, rather than to focus on the good that arose from the project.
Another project fairly recently abandoned by HPE is that of Moonshot. Moonshot was a complete rethinking of server architecture. At its hear is an Intel based server built into a cartridge, allowing up to 45 in a single 4.3U chassis, with 2 built in network switches. A truly high-density amount of compute for such a small footprint. Again, the issue seemed to be the use-case for such a product. A solution seeking a problem, I think.
Until the announcement of the Intelligent Edge device, which found a great use-case for this revolutionary hardware. HPE announced the Intelligent Edge series of converged elements. Initially targeting the IOT/BigData market, these devices are intended as data collectors, with WiFi radios, storage and a number of these Moonshot devices, available in two different sizes. Built as a converged appliance has a series of server elements, Solid State storage, and networking built-in, plus WiFi for data collection, and dedicated networking to feed data back to the data center, with ILO, and configuration through Insight Manager. Imagine you’re in a warehouse, manufacturing facility or maybe a medical product facility, wherein the data being collected is outside the data center, but it does need to get through the firewall and into the data analytics environment. A secure tunnel is established, or potentially encryption from the outside to the inside. To me, the data sovereignty and security of the data collected prior to its movement into the data center, rather than using some cloud connection, given the sheer volume and criticality of data seems to make this use-case a no brainer.
With the growth of IOT type sensors, the sheer amount of data flowing toward the analytics platform can be incredibly daunting. These Intelligent Edge devices prove that there is a way to manage the inflow, and create an architecture that is far more tuned toward this kind of behavior.
I do wonder where else this particular technology might lead. I can see a future for many appliances of this sort, purpose built toward a particular solution, and leveraging some of the key new differentiated hardware built by HPE initially intended to be a part of The Machine.
Once again, I came away from an HPE Discover event feeling encouraged by some of the bold moves made by the organization, and while the kimono is not fully opened to me, many of these moves, albeit with background somewhat confusing, seem very smart.