Antonio Neri, HPE CEO, announced during his keynote address to HPE Discover Las Vegas 2019, that the company was moving toward “Everything as a Service”—a consumption-based model within the next three years. Wait, isn’t this a company that sells boxes? Lots of power inside the boxes, but still. Most of the conversations for the rest of the week reinforced this strategic direction.
From the press release, “HPE will offer entire portfolio through a range of subscription, pay-per-use and consumption-driven offerings, in next three years transitioning the company into an as a Service company over time.” The concept will work out as a service contract with the customer with built-in verifiability as a default. It will offer a low level of granularity.
In the industrial automation space, the reaction differed among competitors and customers when Inductive Automation (note: one of my sponsors) began with its version of pricing for its original HMI/SCADA software. Some 15-16 years later, it seems to be doing well. Actually well enough that in the past year a couple of competitors have announced their responses.
When we discussed Edgeline IoT during the arranged Influencer Coffee Talk—Tom Bradicich, HPE vice president, for years has been a visionary evangelist regarding data generated from the processes, aka the Edge. I met him during his stay at National Instruments where he received industrial grounding after his IBM days where he promoted the concept of “Big Analog Data.” He told us that now he has moved from being a visionary to being an historian. These ideas are now adopted, not just theory. When asked about owning data from manufacturing, he said unequivocally that IT will own the data.
Manufacturing applications are not core to HPE, but we did get a lot of play during Discover. I gave a brief discussion of the manufacturing “demo” in my first post. It was one of the first stands on the exhibition floor. A mock up of a conveyor system with stations formed the layout of the exhibit. The system began with design, continued through assembly, looked at packaging, switched a little into predictive maintenance and troubleshooting of the line, then a quality station.
Two partners sill be immediately recognizable by regular readers—PTC and ABB. The design station featured Creo CAD from PTC along with Windchill PLM. The next station was guided assembly featuring PTC Vuforia augmented reality helping guide assembly along with PTC ThingWorx connecting data from the IP-enabled screwdriver (torque, presence, number of screws per assembly, and the like). An ABB dual-armed robot deftly prepared a box and inserted the product. Later on was another station using PTC’s Vuforia and ThingWorx.
At our 5G Influencer Coffee Talk, executives noted that 5G is still in process, but HPE Aruba is working on it. That is, 5G along with WiFi 6. Before long, there should be some interesting Aruba wireless products. 5G holds great potential for communicating things as well as people. We discussed the difficulties and potentials for handoffs from WiFi to Cellular and back. Could this be a better/faster SCADA? It’s build for today’s cloud not older computing architectures like LTE is.
During our security Influencer Coffee Talk, technologists from HPE discussed silicon-rooted trust. HPE makes its own ASIC that assures only authorized firmware is running on the device.
Finally, more thoughts relevant to manufacturing and production in industrial use cases. As “Dr. Tom” Bradicich told us during his session, data is created at the edge, so need the ability get at the data at the edge. Therefore the concept of move data center from cloud to edge. This is actualized by a partnership of HPE, ABB, Rittal, and PTC. There is sort of a “data center in a box”, although the box is actually a rack.
While I was checking the “box” out on the show floor, the representative from Rittal told me that customers at a recent conference in Monaco complained that it was too much work to install equipment at the edge. But this data center in a box concept overcame that objection.
On last tidbit for thought. HPE has a platform called NonStop—a very high availability compute platform. We spotted on in an Edgeline rack. The HPE statement held that it is inventing the market for high availability converged OT, not following. I wonder what applications this could disrupt.