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Innovation, convergence and the pace of change – the customer view

Now where have I been?

Well, I like to keep active around the place so nothing unusual in reporting from Lisbon this week!  I hosted 20 of our large storage users at the HP Customer Advisory Board in an open dialogue about what’s working, what could work better and how the future looks. In my world, it’s never better than when you can spend quality time with customers, share their experiences and learn how to be a better storage provider. I got heaps of insight and thought it would be interesting to share…


What’s important right now?

It seems that the pace of change is quickening and customers are open-minded and keen to benefit from the disruptive advances in technology around us. Cost transformation and operational simplification seemed to be key topics of discussion and solutions that drive this agenda were well received. It was also clear that there is a groundswell of consciousness regarding business protection and the need for much greater levels of integration for backup and long term retention of masses of data. It seems primary storage is well understood whereas protection and security is somewhat of a “dark art.”


Convergence is gathering speed

I had many group-led and individual conversations with our customers about the subject of convergence.  I have known for a while that Converged Infrastructure is becoming a key topic under debate: the discussion around propriety appliances versus open standards and the different vendor approaches ran long into the night! I would say the most agreed item was that vendor-lock is bad – the need for openness and industry standards is paramount for most customers when considering one-vendor shopping for data centre solutions (servers, storage and networks). Overwhelmingly, I would say the majority of the 20 customers I hosted were shifting to a converged strategy to transform cost and increase agility. It’s definitely happening.


Storage innovation cadence is accelerating

It was interesting to reflect back on our 2012 event and compare the progress and advancements of technology in one short year. Our customers commented that the pace of advancement at HP is staggering right now. As you know HP is differentiated by the simplification of our approach to Converged Storage. We are developing HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage to be polymorphic (different sizes and shapes), to suit all requirements: large or small, NAS or SAN, high performance or cost effective. Feedback tells us that the simplification process has speeded our innovation – many customers commented that the cadence of innovation with HP storage has surpassed all of our rivals. And the long-term disruptive innovations that we shared with this important group of customers received very encouraging reactions. But unfortunately I can’t share that stuff with mere mortals!


But it’s actually about the journey not just the technology…

The overriding lesson I (re-)learned from my Lisbon experience was that, whilst we all love technology and new innovations, it is the journey (or rather the skill of navigation) that makes the biggest impact.  The skills, processes and people running big IT projects and transformational activities really make the difference. I’m glad there is still a human factor in our rapidly changing technological world.


You can find me on Twitter @ChrisJohnsonHP if you wish to comment...

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