HPE has boldly claimed it is five years ahead of Dell EMC, insisting completing its separation before Dell acquired EMC is significant.
At HPE's Global Partner Summit in Boston, and HP's similar event the day before, Dell's acquisition of EMC has been mentioned a number of times. Yesterday, HP boss Dion Weisler said the firm is distracted, but HPE's CEO Meg Whitman declined to comment on it directly in her keynote today. On the morning of HPE's gathering today, Dell EMC rocked up outside the venue with performers dancing with giant Dell EMC-branded balloons.
When asked for his thoughts on the stunt, HPE's EMEA channel boss Gilles Thiebaut came back with some fighting talk.
"You've got two very different business models and for us it is all about focus," he said. "With the two spin-offs we've done, we're clear about the strategy and we want to have speed and accountability. That's what we are aiming for. We have a clear focus."
He said that HP completing its split before Dell and EMC's merger is a significant move. HPE recenly announced two so-called spin-mergers - its spun off its services arm to CSC earlier in the year and last week it spun off its software arm and merged it with Micro Focus.
"It got so bad I stopped drinking out of a HP mug. I thought if I don't drink out of a HP mug, my life will be better."
"I think we probably are five years ahead of the new Dell and EMC - that's the way I look at it," he said. "Our priority is to be focused on the customers and the partners. One thing is clear, it is much easier - much easier - to do a spin off than a merger. We've had a very successful split and it has gone down in the industry as one of the best splits ever. It has gone down as being very popular and it is easier than a merger, that's for sure. They are very different strategies and only one will be right. We think that will be us."
Chris Morgan, HPE UK's hybrid IT lead, described Dell EMC's balloon stunt as "a bit tacky and a bit desperate".
"If you contrast the strategies, Dell is going bigger, we are getting smaller and more agile. They are massively leveraged in debt - $70bn of debt. We have $5.5bn of cash on the balance sheet. They've got to service that debt - that's tough - so the innovation engine will be challenged. Customers would rather go with a company who is focused, agile and nimble, rather than one in turmoil".
Chris Gabriel (pictured), chief digital officer at Logicalis, said HPE's focus is a significant benefit for customers.
"The world is looking for expertise - it is not looking for generalists, it wants experts," he said.
"If you want software-defined infrastructure to run your digital business, you want it off an expert and you don't want it off someone who wants to be so broad. Customers say what ‘does it mean for me?'. It means you can buy analytics off us and you can buy software off us. Well that's great, but I want expertise. HPE are breaking themselves down into areas of expertise and flawlessly executing on those. I am heartened by it because I think better technology will come out. That's what I want."
But throughout the conference, HPE has admitted on a number of occasions that five years ago, HPE lacked innovation and was in a significantly worse off position.
Logicalis' Gabriel said the vendor has come on leaps and bounds since then.
"Going back to five years ago - I used to have to do stuff with HP and I was less of a HP fan," he said. "It got so bad I stopped drinking out of a HP mug. I thought if I don't drink out of a HP mug, my life will be better. And still today, I can't drink out of a HP mug. I am fundamentally flawed. I have a really, really great relationship with HP, but I still can't drink out of a HP mug. If I am in the office and there are four HP mugs in the cupboard, I won't have a cup of coffee until another one is free. Even though we have the best relationship in the world! That's because of my perception all those years ago."
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