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Microsoft to build duo of UAE data centres

0 56Microsoft has announced plans to build its first Middle East and North Africa data centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
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Geared for growth

What brings you to town?

We had our quarter business review here with our worldwide executive team. It’s a great place to be in and a great market for all.

Can you tell us about your rebranding as HP Networking?

ProCurve has lot of equity, so does TippingPoint and H3C in China. What we want to do as a company is to leverage the HP master brand and not get diluted by having too many sub-brand. We want to keep it really simple and talk about HP Networking as a portfolio of solutions that spans from edge to core, which can satisfy the needs of our customers in multiple ways. We want them to remember HP Networking, not get bogged down on a specific product line but think of overall networking solutions across the board.

Have you been able to integrate 3Com portfolio into your fold?

We have been working on the integration for quite for some time even before the merger was closed. We have a very strong cadence around how we do integration. We have done close to 40 acquisitions over the last 3 years, and my prior role before taking over HP Networking was that of head of strategy and corporate development, as a part of which I did all the M&A work and integration. So for us doing that is just another part of operationalising the business and we are far ahead of the plans we have. Sure, there are other areas that we need to complete.

Are you going to keep the TippingPoint brand alive? How do you see the future of IPS as a stand-alone device?

Yes for now. TippingPoint security is the best in the industry around intrusion prevention. According to Gartner Magic Quadrant, it is the leading brand and we want to leverage that for the time being. IPS is a clearly a great security service and we are going to continue to enhance that and add components to our overall security suite. You have seen some of the other acquisitions that HP did around security. So it is not just for the networking but also within software and other areas of business. Security is a very important part of what our customers want us to deliver. If you look at our value proposition, we provide best products, we provide much simpler architecture and we provide a much more secure environment, all at a lower total cost of ownership. All these four key elements of our value proposition are critical and you will see us aggressively invest in TippingPoint and expand that portfolio.

How does HP Networking fit into the HP’s converged infrastructure vision?

It’s a critical part. In fact, it is the glue which brings it all together. In past, we have sold server, storage and network as silos. Even if you look at companies they are organisationally aligned by silos. So today when we go and talk to CIOs about how we are bringing together pieces of convergence, how it is modular based, how it is standards based, and how you can do it in such a manner that you don’t have to throw out your legacy infrastructure, they get it. The conversation then turns into how can you help me move into the next-gen architecture because I have got all these silos inside the organisation? So it becomes a partnership conversation centred around not just infrastructure transformation, but organisational and performance transformation. No one else has this in this in the industry. Everyone has partnership around IP but that is hard to do because every individual organisation has its own unique needs. We can bring it all together under one umbrella.

You are talking about Cisco-free data centre. Is that even possible?

We only talk about when we have proven it already. We transformed our own data centre into a Cisco free environment. When we did the acquisition, our CIO, Enterprise Services team and my organisation came together was one team and looked at every technology that was out there. It was only when I got our CIO to say this is the technology we are going to use I was allowed to go for the acquisition. We got our own IT to validate this was the right platform, which is important especially when you think HP is the largest IT company with 300000 plus employees, every kind of IT environment that you can possibly imagine and now that we run our own networking solutions is a proof point for our customers.

You are talking about flattening the data centre network. Wouldn’t that mean your users have to buy new switches?

Not at all. Our customers are saying two things. One they want low latency across the enterprise. You have a scenario where the workforce is becoming more global and distributed. You have around 75% of your employees in remote locations and branches. This doesn’t mean that companies are going to replicate application hosting in all remote locations; they want to be able to do it one data centre. They want to have the ability to broadcast apps so application availability and performance are important. The questions they are asking is how can I improve overall latency and do it in a such a manner that I don’t have to keep going between Layer 2 and 3 architecture. The other piece is that my environment keeps changing all the time so when I need to provision new servers or storage arrays, how can I do it within hours as opposed to months that it will take today. We believe our architecture, especially around 12500 data centre core switch and IRF technology, which allows us to virtualise these core switches, will eliminate the need to keep pinging into 3 layers of architecture. You can do that in a piece-meal manner and don’t have to change everything in one fell swoop. The ability to provision devices instantly and improve bandwidth and network access resonates with our customers.

Some of your competitors are also talking about a similar architecture. How would you differentiate?

One, we have been doing it for a long time and here is an architecture that aligns what we are. HP Networking is number two in the industry and this is very quickly becoming a two-horse race. If you are a niche player you can’t deliver converged infrastructure. You might want to look at the competition and see how are they going to bring different components together and who are they partnering with to enable that because it is really hard to do.

Do you have anything that can take on Cisco’s UCS? What role will BladeSystem Matrix play?

BladeSytem Matrix is key component of it and there are a number of examples out there where we have competed head to head against UCS. Our value proposition is standards-based architecture that encompasses servers, storage and networking that customers are looking at. BladeSystem is the ability to provision network assets . It is all about orchestration and automation of infrastructure component. Cisco is going to struggle with TCO and economies of scale. We ship a server every 30 seconds and it is going to take then at least a decade to get anywhere close to that.

You are talking about open standards. What does it really mean for your customers?

First things first. What we typically see with is that customers on average are ona 70:30 split. They spent 70% of their IT dollars on maintenance of infrastructure and 30% on innovation. What we want to tell our customers is to spend their 80% dollars and time on innovation but that will probably never happen. What we have within HP is a 50:50 model because we have made that transformation. So where you need to drive innovation is clearly at the application later so that you can start driving change in the business environment and internal users. What we are going to do is to simplify that infrastructure which sits below and supports the applications and run optimally at a cost structure no one else can compete with. We can do it virtualised and non-virtualised environments, other cant. We support every OS out there, other do not. Our value proposition is that we can add value in any instance and any environment. Every day we are going to compete for their business because we are not going to lock them in.

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