And there she goes, HPE jettisons both OpenStack and Cloud Foundry initiatives

If there was anyone who wasn’t previously scratching their head about HPE’s strategy, this latest move should be enough…

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If there was anyone who wasn’t previously scratching their head about HPE’s strategy, this latest move should be enough…

What to say? First a disclosure. I was an early investor (in fact, the first external investor) in Appsecute, an operations management company that was acquired by ActiveState to roll into its Stackato PaaS product. Stackato is (was?) a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering based on the Cloud Foundry open source initiative and Cloud Foundry is generally regarded as the PaaS that is winning in that sector today.

Hewlett Packard (as it was called then) saw the future value in PaaS, especially as a peripheral offering to its Helion OpenStack product and it acquired Stackato and started the process to build the PaaS business. And then it all got messy. HP split itself into two companies and the infrastructure part of the businesses, HPE, begun a kind of radioactive isotope dance, splitting itself into ever smaller pieces. As an experiment, to find out what the half life of a once great tech vendor is, it is interesting. But for those who have been watching the space for years, it is a sad, ignoble end.

That end seems ever closer with the announcement that HPE is jettisoning its entire OpenStack and Cloud Foundry business. Of course it is being pitched as a strategic sale, with SUSE stepping up and telling the world that it has “entered into an agreement with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to acquire technology and talent that will expand SUSE’s OpenStack Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solution and accelerate SUSE’s entry into the growing Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) market.”

First a quick note on the SUSE part of this. I guess it makes sense. SUSE is, of course, an important player in the Linux world -- by moving further up the open source food chain, with the addition of both OpenStack and Cloud Foundry practices, it adds peripheral services to its existing business. I kind of buy this and wish SUSE luck in an already crowded marketplace.

But HPE? Really?

In terms of the deal (which, I suspect, had very little in the way of financial implications but was mainly a “strategic” thing), HPE has also entered into an OEM agreement with SUSE to sell that company’s OpenStack and Cloud Foundry offerings (yes, the same ones HPE just sold them) back as part of its Helion cloud portfolio.

Even more weird, confusing and bizarre, the Helion and Stackato brands will be retained by HPE. HPE will provide roadmap input and have influence with Helion OpenStack. With Stackato PaaS, HPE will leverage SUSE’s product and also build on top of it to meet our customer requirements.

So the names still exist, but the products don’t? Huh?

Of course HPE, in its wisdom, is putting an interesting spin on this. To whit:

HPE’s choice of SUSE as its preferred open source partner further cements SUSE’s reputation for delivering high-quality, enterprise-grade open source solutions and services. We have an opportunity to leverage both companies’ technical capabilities and also continue to leverage HPE’s global go-to-market and customer relationships… HPE is evolving our investment strategy to focus on developing the next evolution of hybrid cloud solutions that combines HPE technology with a broad ecosystem of open source and partner technologies to support traditional and cloud native applications. The investments we have made in OpenStack technology and our strategic relationship with SUSE gives our customers high quality open source technology and additional technical capabilities in the Linux domain.

So. You spent hundreds of millions of dollars building out engineering, sales and support teams for a product. You never managed to actual generate a return from that product, and finally you jettison the products to a player that is, to be honest, something of a minnow. And all the while you tell the world how these investments are positive for the world, your customers and your company?

Frankly, this is annoying. Some good people seated blood to build out the OpenStack and Stackato products for HPE. All of that effort is wasted now and HPE, a once proud company, increasingly looks like a dry withered vendor that hocks off servers to a world that increasingly cares little about blinking lights, speeds and feeds.

And all the while, across the globe from where HPE was holding its Discover London conference, AWS was holding its own event in Las Vegas and once again showing the world just how epic the distance is between itself and these legacy vendors.

Sigh.

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