HP Seeking to Lure Customers With “Converged Infrastructure”
HP are extremely busy working away at their enterprise customer base with their philosophy that one-vendor will fit all, known as “Converged Infrastructure”. Traditionally, it has been a brave customer who has preferred to go down the one-vendor approach when it comes to satisfying demand for infrastructure hardware. Adopting a multi-vendor approach is seen as a hedge against hardware glitches, but more immediately as a bargaining chip when it comes to pricing solutions.
HP have a great deal of client inertia to overcome, with many customers fearing they will be locked in to the HP solution if they follow the tempting pricing and performance offers. HP counter this concern by claiming they are offering an open architecture solution, but if that is the case why bother trying to tout converged infrastructure in the first instance – if is open architecture in the first instance, the HP solution will naturally rise to the surface on merit?
IT solutions are like life insurance – they are not bought, they are sold.
This said, running a 100% HP infrastructure will open up a toolset which HP provides which allows for lower CO and TCO (HP networking solutions typically cost 50% or less of major competing solutions). Integrating a hybrid HP and “A.N.Other” hardware solution leads to degraded network performance because of the limitations of the HP toolset in such infrastructure environments.
There is a clear trade-off at work – better performance, lower costs versus undiversified infrastructure base and future lock-in to one vendor (HP).
HP has recently announced its third generation, Matrix blade server management solution which includes server automation and the ability to deploy infrastructure applications, manage performance and security better than before. This all sounds like a great deal and it is, so from an IT decision maker’s perspective, what’s not to like?
The straight answer is there is nothing you don’t need to like, but there is a major competing IT infrastructure strategy which demands you continue with a multi-vendor approach – Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is still viewed as having some way to go before it is ready for wholesale adoption, especially by small and midcap businesses, but then again maybe not!
Another obstacle to HP’s convergent infrastructure is the amount of legacy hardware floating around. Even where you visit a client who favors one particular manufacturer, it is hard not to find Dell or IBM hardware gathering dust but still showing not the least sign of wanting to quit. Swapping out old, but still functioning hardware is something many IT managers simply don’t want to do – if it isn’t broken, I’m not going to fix it and in any event, it’s hard for them to see how they can get a better ROI on a piece of new kit, when the existing box had its hard cost sunk years ago.
Probably the biggest obstacle to a single vendor approach is business risk. “No-one ever got fired for buying IBM”, but then again no-one has ever been fired for diversifying their employer’s business risk and achieving a satisfactory ROI. Placing all of a company’s infrastructure needs into one vendor’s basket is inherently a risky approach, and unless HP truly unlock the infrastructure architecture and ensure 100% open structure, it is probably going to be devilishly expensive to reverse out of that strategy if a customer wants to down the road.