Checking in on HPE: A 2016 report card

It's always interesting to revisit a vendor after a few years out in the cold. So how is HPE's transformation coming along?

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Fundamentally, I struggle with some people's contention that HPE needs to focus strongly on building product for, and encouraging adoption by, developers. Don't get me wrong, I realize that developers are critical to an organization's ability to innovate and become agile, but I am not convinced that, for a company like HPE at least, trying to become a bottom-up vendor is the right way forward.

As I see it, the real opportunity for HPE is to leverage the relationships it already has with CIOs and the IT department and, rather than forsake that relationship in an attempt to chase developers, they need to subtly shift their CIO messaging. For me, the appropriate angle is to go to the existing customers and show them how HPE is continuing its historical journey, that of being a trusted provider to IT. But within that "trusted provider" paradigm, the opportunity is to show IT that HPE is enabling them to offer their own developers the flexibility they demand.

While much is made of the fact that developers demand absolute autonomy over their tools of choice, the fact of the matter is that most pragmatic developers just want to be able to use tools that allow them to move quickly. It's not so much a dogmatic "I must use this particular CI/CD tool" perspective but rather an "I just want to use a tool that lets me do my job quickly" one.

The bottom line is that HPE has a long and successful history of creating and maintaining relationships with technology decision makers. It seems ludicrous to me for the company to move away from that in an attempt to court developers directly.

Using Whitman's approach of focusing on what HPE has historically done well, it seems to me that the company could fairly easily craft a narrative that continues to meet CIO's needs, while also giving them a way to offer their developers the agility they yearn for. It's about being honest about what they are and, more importantly, what they aren't. There's a successful future for HPE if they just accept that fact.

I'd give HP a 7 out of 10 for their progression in transforming their business -- they've come a long way with much road ahead left to navigate.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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