HPE releases hybrid compute managed service for small business/ROBO market

The HPE ProLiant Easy Connect Managed Hybrid solution is a subscription based offering for small businesses and ROBO environments. But while American partners get access to it in a couple weeks, Canadian ones will have to wait a while – like until Q4.

EC200aCraddle_LFHewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has rolled out its HPE ProLiant Easy Connect Managed Hybrid solution, a new compute platform aimed at smaller businesses and the ROBO (Remote Office/ Branch Office) market. Sold as an OPEX subscription based solutions, it is the first offering in HPE’s new small business-focused Easy Connect portfolio.

“This is not just a technology solution, but a business model solution,” said Minal Santhosh, Senior Manager, SMB Solutions, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “It’s not a retrofitted solution, but is specifically purpose-built for small business.”

The managed hybrid solution features tightly integrated compute, storage, and networking, along with virtualization and cloud management software from Zynstra.

HPE isn’t marketing this as a hyper-converged offering, in large part because hyper-converged isn’t associated with small business, or even well known in the space. All the elements are there, however.

“In my eyes this is hyper-converged for the everyman,” said David Sung, Director, WorldWide SMB Server Marketing at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Many are scared of all their data being in the cloud. They want something that lives in between, and hybrid is the answer for this.”

“This has three unique aspects,” Santhosh said. “First, you have a small custom-built on-prem appliance, with a 10 inch by 10 inch form factor. Second, you have a management platform with full remote management capability, which updates patches and firmware, in the way that the cloud can keep things up to date. Third, it’s all offered as an OPEX monthly subscription model.”

Pre-integrated options with cloud services like Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure for backup are available, and are managed remotely. Small organizations can choose which data and applications they want to keep on-site and which they put in the cloud.

“We have been developing this for an year and a half, and it is truly a small business product,” Santhosh said. “It is ideally suited for many companies like dentists’ offices that have between two and five apps. Our sweet spot is organizations with between 5 and 50 employees, and where the focus is completely on business and not on IT. It’s also attractive from a ROBO perspective, because it’s managed at a multi- site level.”

HPE ProLiant Easy Connect also covers break/fix services and routine maintenance, much of which is automated, and with the service monitored by an HPE NOC. Partners will do Level 1 and 2 support, while HP handles cases above that.

“Typically, small businesses don’t want to hear their firmware or patches aren’t up to date and they have to install it,” Santhosh said. “That’s all taken care of here, and that’s a low margin business for partners anyway.”

Previously, HPE hasn’t offered anything like this, and while the managed services market has all the elements of this offering, Santhosh said that HP has the most comprehensive option aimed at this part of the market.

“There are many offerings that do parts of what we do, like workload management, and certainly there are competitors to this, but these other offerings are bits and pieces in comparison,” he said. “Nobody does this from a complete solution perspective, including management fees, applications, and cloud marketplace, all delivered as OPEX.”

HPE partners who wanted to make this kind of offering as a service before certainly could have done so, but it would have been very much along the lines of a Do-It-Yourself model, Sung said.

“This is a way for a traditional reseller who hasn’t been in managed services before to take that first step,” Sung said. “It’s all automated for the partner, and lets the partner to focus on adding additional value-added services.”

“It’s a game-changer for resellers already delivering services as well, because resellers who have been delivering this service by themselves can deliver it at lower cost and lower risk,” Santhosh said.

Santhosh also indicated that HPE sees HPE ProLiant Easy Connect as highly complementary to them.

“We have already begun integrations with one PSA vendor, and that will be ready within a close time frame.”

For HPE channel partners in the U.S. – and the U.K. – the HPE ProLiant Easy Connect Managed Hybrid solution will be available on April 28, 2016 in the US and UK. However, partners in Canada will not be so lucky. Canadian availability is not scheduled until Q4 of this year. Subscription pricing will vary based on solution configurations.

HPE also announced the HPE ProLiant ML10 Gen9 server featuring the Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 processor, designed as an affordable, quiet, compact server to fit the needs of small businesses. The ML10 completes HPE’s portfolio of Gen9 10, 100 and 300 series SMB servers for the small and midsize business. It is available now, priced from $USD 299.