HPE offers price-per-gig storage with Flash Now initiative

Brad Parks, director of go-to-market strategy and enablement for HPE Storage

Brad Parks, director of go-to-market strategy and enablement for HPE Storage

LONDON, UK — In its latest pitch to continue the march of flash deeper into the enterprise storage space, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has introduced an initiative it calls Flash Now, which lures customers in with the promise of flash storage at a price point of three cents per usable gigabyte per month.

While the program clearly has a target in its crosshairs, it’s not a traditional “competitive takeout” effort — rather, it seems to be firmly focused on preventing storage workloads from moving off-premise, noting that the price point offered is “a fraction of the cost of public cloud solutions.” That means a “target-rich environment” for partners, as Brad Parks, director of go-to-market strategy and enablement for HPE Storage, puts it, because a lot (70 to 80 per cent) of enterprise customers have some sort of a cloud project mandate from management, but those pushes are seldom well-defined.

“Flash Now is a tool our sellers can use to approach their customer base that have those mandates, and de-mystify what it all means for them,” Parks said. “There are a lot of instances where apps and data belong in the cloud. But there are an equal number where they’re looking for an OpEx cost model, and simple provisioning, and with FlashNow, you can deliver that without disrupting what they already have.”

Much of what is included in Flash Now has been available for some times — in terms of data migration tools and services, and financing options from the vendor. But by bringing them all together in a package with an attractive-to-customers pitch, the company is hoping to shine a brighter light on what is possible with on-premise flash, and make it as easy as possible for sellers to position and offer.

The key behind the initiative is financing through one of two HPE financing organs. For relatively straightforward offerings that don’t need much flexibility (upwards, but particularly downwards), financing for Flash Now sales are handled by HPE Financing, a straight “pay as you grow” model at the aforementioned three-cent price point. For larger customers that may have more interest in scaling up and down as capacity changes, financing is offered through the Flexible Capacity program offered by HPE’s Technical Services (TS) division, affording those customers greater elasticity.

With Flash Now, the company is also looking to shine a spotlight on the Online Input data migration capabilities that have been present in 3Par for a year now, offering a simplified path for moving data from storage arrays from a variety of storage rivals. This doesn’t fit into the ongoing opex cost model per se, but it does represent a big and lucrative service opportunity for partners, particularly when the tools make that data migration much faster and more automated for partners to deploy, Parks said.

While the initiative and offering themselves are ongoing, Parks said he sees a first-mover advantage for the company and its partners over “the next three to six months” to drive the conversation around on-premise flash as an alternative to public cloud storage, leading customers to the solution that will be best-performing and most cost-effective for their particular cases. And there are a lot of customers that fit the likely profile.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth in past years, but these’s still only 15 or so per cent of the worldwide data centre footprint that’s made the shift to lead with all-flash. We have an opportunity to be very aggressive in driving that transition with our customers,” he said.