New HPE Canada President Mike Hilton sees Canada ripe for GreenLake as-a-service offerings

Almost everything in HPE’s portfolio is already available as a service, and while Canadian customers have been somewhat slow to warm to the new model, Hilton says that’s changing in a big way.

Mike Hilton, President of HPE Canada

HPE Canada has announced that Mike Hilton has been appointed as President of HPE Canada. Hilton, who formally assumed the role in February, replaced Paula Hodgins, who left HPE that same month for a global role at VMware as SVP of Worldwide Global and Telco accounts.

HPE country leaders have traditionally been based out of the Greater Toronto Area, on the logical reasoning that the Golden Horseshoe has by far the greatest density of customers and potential prospects in Canada. Hilton has been based in Vancouver for years, and served from there as HPE’s Vice President & GM, Hybrid IT Canada. However, thanks to COVID, and the rise of the Work From Anywhere concept, Hilton gets to stay on the Left Coast.

“We’ve clearly identified that at least for the foreseeable future, where you work has completely changed,” Hilton told ChannelBuzz. “The location became less of an issue because of the rise of Work From Home strategy. HPE also has a very strong business in the Prairies and in B.C.

Hilton said that HPE, like all the big data centre OEMs, took a beating in Canada in the second quarter last year, but rebounded nicely in Q3 and has continued the positive momentum since.

“Except for the quarter when COVID restrictions came into last effect and organizations had to find their footing, we have been very strong across a wide variety of sectors,” he indicated. He highlighted storage, where he said HPE is taking share, newly acquired Cray supercomputers, and both blade servers and Apollo high density servers.

“Both our managed services business and our data centre care business have done well,” he added.

At its 2019 HPE Discover customer event, HPE publicly committed itself to making everything it sells available as a service by 2022. Hilton said that they are very close to that now, with the recent addition of private cloud-as-a-service to the HPE GreenLake portfolio.

“We offer storage as-a-service, HPC as-a-service, workloads as-a-service, virtual machines as-a-service, containers as-a-service, and we have even gone up the stack from there,” he stated. “For the health care market, we offer Epic as-a-service, and we offer Splunk as a service. We have a services partnership with SAP [around HANA Enterprise Cloud], where they provide the infrastructure. It’s a strong and growing portfolio.”

It’s a portfolio which Hilton acknowledges customers in Canada have been slow to appreciate, although he said the principal problem isn’t Canadian dislike of innovation, but rather the tendency to confuse as-a-service with creative financing, because of competitor offerings.

“Response has been slow up to this point because a lot of people don’t appreciate it, and that’s in part because some competitors’ offerings are creative financing,” he said. “HPE GreenLake is metered consumption up and down. When they see tools like GreenLake Central where everything is visible, they see its not just a creative way to finance infrastructure. It’s a way of running cloud on premise. There are workloads that make sense in the public cloud, but there are others that don’t, for many reasons, such as no economies of scale for HPC in hyperscale. This provides customers with the ability to bring that cloud experience on-prem, while still having some workload in the public cloud, and that is becoming more exciting to them.”

Impressing this upon customers is the most important part of Hilton’s job this year, he stressed.

“That’s the key part of my role this year, highlighting that value proposition from HPE, that managed as-a-service offerings on top of HPE GreenLake is truly the cloud that comes to you,” he said. “I will help our customers understand this unique value proposition, as well as continue to help rally the team, and help rally the partners.”

Hilton also expressed his views on the major channel opportunities where partners really should be, both this year and next.

“Today it really is those partners starting building a profitable business with managed services and hyperscale, and taking advantage of this managed service metered infrastructure on-prem,” he said. “They can build their application services on top of it.”

For the next fiscal year, Hilton pointed to containerization services as a critical growth area.

“There is no question we are seeing momentum around containerization which will fundamentally change the environment,” he said. “With it, you are not beholden to infrastructure, and you can scale more easily. Partners should be  embracing containerization in a big way is 2022, because it will create a unique opportunity in the marketplace.”