[EN] HPE still leads the way in cloud infrastructure ahead of Cisco and Dell
By James Bourne
14 September 2016
The company may only be a week old – but Dell Technologies is already challenging the traditional leaders in the cloud infrastructure space, according to new data released from Synergy Research.
Naturally, this statement isn’t quite telling the whole truth. Even though Dell Technologies came into being on September 7, the company’s history, having come about following the completion of Dell’s $67 billion acquisition of EMC, and all it entails – Virtustream, Pivotal, VCE et al – means it is more a question of semantics than anything else.
The Synergy verdict for Q216 revenues shows Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) as the overall leader by a nose, with 15% of the overall market including public cloud hardware, private cloud hardware, and software, while Cisco (14%) and Dell/EMC (13%) took the silver and bronze medals respectively.
The cloud software market is growing more quickly than the others, yet remain smaller. Microsoft has the lion’s share of the market, with VMware – another Dell Technologies subsidiary – in second place. Synergy notes the other primary players in this space are Huawei, IBM, Lenovo, NetApp, and Oracle.
“While total spending on data centre infrastructure remains relatively flat, cloud share of that spending continues to rise as an ever-increasing portion of computer workloads migrate to either public or private clouds,” said Jeremy Duke, Synergy Research founder and chief analyst, adding: “We are also seeing that within the cloud infrastructure market, hyperscale cloud operators are accounting for an ever-larger share of overall capex. This is a trend which is not going to change any time soon.”
China’s technology giant is looking to Europe, Russia, Africa to grow its cloud-computing business
By Juro Osawa
Sept. 11, 2016
Huawei Technologies Co. is already one of the world’s top three makers of telecom-networking gear and smartphones by market share. Now, the Chinese technology giant is taking aim at the market for cloud computing largely dominated by Western heavyweights.
Huawei is taking on Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. , Dell Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. in the supply of servers and other equipment used in data centers, the key components of cloud computing, by adopting the strategy it has used to expand in its smartphone and telecommunications-equipment sales over the years: competitive pricing and hefty investment in research and development.
“Undoubtedly, we will be a leader in this sector. We have the capability,” said Deputy Chairman Guo Ping in an interview, adding that the company plans to spend at least $1 billion of its research-and-development budget every year on equipment and operating systems for data centers. Last year, Huwei’s R&D investment totaled roughly $9 billion.
Shenzhen-based Huawei, founded three decades ago by former Chinese army engineer Ren Zhengfei, has little chance to expand in the U.S., where its telecom equipment has been effectively banned because of security concerns. Analysts say the Chinese company is unlikely to become a supplier for Amazon, Facebook. and Google, which build their own data centers to offer the cloud services that enable businesses and consumers to access applications and store information remotely.
But in Europe, Russia and Africa, where Huawei’s wireless networks are already being used, it is well-positioned to expand, they say. Huawei’s data-center clients include Deutsche Telekom AG and Russia’s central bank.
As more corporate clients become cautious about information security, companies are building their own exclusive cloud platforms and Huawei is trying to expand into that lucrative segment to supply highly customized equipment and software for private data centers.
The move is yet another ambitious plan by the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor, which aims to surpass Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. to become the market leader in five years.
For Huawei, internet infrastructure is an extension of its telecom-equipment business, as carriers build more data centers to offer cloud storage and applications. Technologically, there is an overlap between telecom and data-center equipment, the company says.
Huawei competes globally with HPE, Cisco and China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. in equipment and with EMC Corp.’s VMware Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in operating systems used in data centers. In China, Huawei plays the role of a cloud-service provider similar to Amazon.com.
Huawei posted revenue last year of 395 billion yuan ($59 billion), with roughly 60% coming from telecom equipment and 33% from consumer products such as smartphones. The company doesn’t disclose its data-center-related sales, part of which is included in its telecom-equipment revenue. It employs about 170,000 workers world-wide, including nearly 80,000 R&D employees.
The number of researchers and engineers working on technologies for data centers has increased sharply to 16,000 this year from 3,000 in 2012, Mr. Guo said. Huawei isn’t only increasing its R&D budget, but also beefing up its sales workforce overseas.
Those efforts are starting to pay off. Overseas markets now account for about 40% of Huawei’s revenue from internet infrastructure products and services, compared with 25% last year, thanks to growth in Europe, Russia and Africa, Mr. Guo said.
The company generates nearly 60% of its total revenue outside China, according to its 2015 figures.
Outside China, a challenge for Huawei will be building alliances with business partners who have longstanding relationships with Western equipment suppliers, said Chris Barnard, analyst at research firm IDC.
“Huawei has to try harder than its competitors,” Mr. Barnard said, adding that the company still needs to prove itself in terms of services and technical support.
To that end, Huawei has been trying to forge more international partnerships.
Last week, Huawei invited 20,000 clients, business partners and industry experts to a cloud-computing conference in Shanghai where speakers included top executives from Intel Corp. and business-software provider SAP SE.
“In terms of the technology used for cloud computing, Huawei isn’t behind its Western competitors,” said Thomas Aschenbrenner, sales and marketing director at T-Systems International GmbH, which offers a cloud-computing platform using Huawei’s technology. T-Systems, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, also works with Cisco.
Some Huawei clients said part of the Chinese vendor’s appeal is its competitive pricing. Neither Huawei nor its clients disclose any pricing information, but in the global market for servers, for example, the company’s presence so far is mainly in the low-end segment. Huawei was the fourth-largest server vendor by shipments in the first quarter. But based on revenue, it wasn’t among the top-five vendors, according to research firm Gartner.
Still, Mr. Guo said customers who buy Huawei’s low-end gear will eventually let the company be the main builder of their private cloud-computing platforms.
In China, Huawei is already a major supplier of data-center equipment, helped in part by challenges facing foreign competitors. Chinese government agencies have increasingly shifted toward homegrown technology suppliers because of national-security concerns.
Huawei’s domestic clients include China Merchants Bank Co. and local television broadcasters.
But in the U.S. data-center market, cybersecurity tensions between Washington and Beijing are likely to severely limit Huawei’s prospects, analysts say.
Huawei acknowledges the challenges.
“We realize that the U.S. market is a stronghold for a lot of other vendors,” Mr. Guo said, adding that Huawei is still exploring opportunities in the U.S.
Can Huawei Shift From Carrier Leader To Global Cloud Player?
Sep 17, 2016
Huawei Technologies is a large, $60B China-based company that, while many in the U.S. may not be familiar with, is a very big name in the carrier and telco equipment and consumer smartphone space—especially in China and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa). The company is making serious moves to expand their reach into the carrier and enterprise cloud and take on the role of a “global ICT leader” and believes that the “C”, “communications”, in “IT” will make the difference.
I attended Huawei Connect 2016 in Shanghai a few weeks ago along with approximately 20,000 Huawei ecosystem partners, customers, press and analysts. This was the company’s first integrated conference—combining the three separate Cloud, Network, and Developer’s Congresses Huawei has traditionally held. The theme of the conference was appropriately titled “Shape the Cloud,” and it was their first big opportunity on the public stage to demonstrate the company’s new global cloud trajectory.
This isn’t a research paper, research brief and I am only doing an overview from their CEOs keynote address and subsequent meetings, but I may follow up with those details if there is interest. Also, I will be focusing on carrier and enterprise, not their consumer business.
A Chinese Carrier Powerhouse
Before we dive into Huawei Connect, I wanted to provide some background on Huawei for those unacquainted with the company. First off, they are a very large company in revenue, racking up $60B in 2015 and their recent 2016 financials are putting them on a much bigger track as the first half they saw 40% growth. Huawei was founded in 1987, and are privately-owned by 85,000 Chinese employees. The other 90,000 non-Chinese employees, though they cannot own it, are provided tracking shares in the company so they can enjoy in the upside. While they aren’t public, they do issue audited topline financials every six months.
Over half of their $60B 2015 revenue comes from China (42%), and the rest from EMEA (32%), APAC (13%) and the Americas (10%). They’ve yet to make serious inroads in the Americas, but we could be seeing more growth in that direction. Huawei takes an interesting, non-committal stance on the U.S. It’s kind of a “we don’t need to be successful here but it would be nice.”
2015 Huawei revenue by geography (Source: Huawei)
$36 billion (60%) of Huawei’s 2015 revenue came from the telco and carrier market. This has historically been their bread and butter—they claim 45 of the top 50 telcos under their umbrella, excluding notable exceptions such as AT&T T -0.62%, Verizon, and Sprint. The rest of their business is comprised of 33% consumer ($20 billion), and 7% enterprise (a small, but quickly growing $4 billion).
2015 Huawei by line (Source: Huawei)
In the carrier and telco space, Huawei competes with Ericsson and Nokia , both who are having their challenges. Ericsson’s CEO was pushed out by the board this July and Nokia’s Networks business was down 11% YoY for Q2. Huawei holds the #1 smartphone unit share in China as Lenovo and Xiaomi declined and are #3 globally to Samsung and Apple AAPL -0.64%. The most impressive thing about Huawei’s smartphone ascension is that they aren’t just doing cheap, they are increasing share in the midrange and premium smartphone space.
Another interesting tidbit is that Huawei employs an innovative rotating CEO system, wherein three senior executives take six-month turns as acting CEO of the company. That hasn’t worked well at any other company before I’m aware of, but seems to be working well so far at Huawei.
Huawei’s Cloud Vision
Current rotating CEO Ken Hu delivered the Day 1 Connect 16 Keynote—the first half of which focused on the usual meta-concepts of digital transformation, IoT, the cloud, and preparing for what Hu referred to as the “intelligent world.” He differentiated between what he called the current Cloud 1.0 era- based on “agile innovation, good user experience, and low costs,” and impending Cloud 2.0 era, “in which enterprises are the main players, and we will see the rise of countless industry clouds.” Hu went as far as to predict that by 2025, more than 85% of enterprise applications will be cloud-based.
It’s that new era in which Huawei is trying to position themselves as the “Enabler and Driver of the Intelligent World.” The second half of the keynote outlined Huawei’s overall strategy: staying customer-centric, providing innovative cloud technology, becoming their customers’ preferred partner, and proactively contributing to the growing cloud ecosystem.
I have attended many big tent events and there wasn’t much here I hadn’t heard in other keynotes the past few years. Huawei did introduce the “industry cloud”, but this is a new word, not a new concept as it is basically it is a vertical approach to private clouds. Clouds are vertical now and vary by workloads, latency, responsiveness, security, regulation and scalability. I like it, it’s not new, and it underlines Huawei’s vertical approach which I saw everywhere at the show.
Customer centricity through customization and “open”
Hu touted the company’s 28 years of customer-centricity, saying it is part of Huawei’s DNA. Every company says they are customer-centric and in the west most IT companies have stopped using the term because customers are skeptical. I do believe Huawei when they say this as they appear to do so many customizations for their customers.
Hu went on to say that as technology providers, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t always the right solution—Huawei pledged to learn from customers and develop innovative cloud solutions that are right for their specific needs. Hu cited Huawei’s development of open cloud architecture as an example of meeting their large enterprise customer’s desire for independence and interoperability, and emphasized the company’s commitment to “openness, security, and enterprise grade performance” in all of their cloud solutions.
I was a bit skeptical at first about the “most open” approach as everyone says they’re “open”, the Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin literally got on stage day two and said Huawei leads in “open”. Not “a leader”, “one of the leaders”, but “THE leader”. That blew me away.
Strategic partner to drive beyond the “dumb pipe”
The next key part of Huawei’s strategy is being more than just a vendor to their customers—being a true strategic partner. Like customer-centric, pretty much all IT providers say they are strategic. Hu highlighted Huawei’s work with Deutsche Telekom (a German telecom company) as a case study: this past June, Deutsche Telekom released their Open Telekom cloud, a set of private and public cloud services and software solutions developed for the enterprise. They partnered with Huawei to provide hardware and software solutions for the project. Harkening back to the previous point, Hu said that the most noteworthy aspect of the collaboration was that Open Telekom was “completely driven by customer needs,” and said that so far the product had been receiving widely positive reviews but no indication from DT on revenue.
I believe Huawei is dedicated to and trying very hard to be a strategic partner to the carriers. I think Huawei can deliver the carriers what it takes to help them, but I question whether the carriers can pull it off. I have to start off with some background. Carriers aka “telcos” try their hardest not to be relinquished to the non-differentiated “dumb pipe”. You can differentiate a pipe, and carriers are globally all trying to provide value-add services to the consumer and/or the enterprise. In addition to video services, Huawei is helping carriers to fulfill their desired goal what I will call the “carrier cloud”. The carrier loud is all about providing services like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM SoftLayer and Google Cloud provide today and more as workloads sub-segment and advance even more in the future.
I see a potential edge IIoT (industrial IoT) carrier play, but I am very skeptical about everything else. Carriers haven’t exactly been lighting the enterprise world on fire and aren’t investing like the “Super7” cloud giants. This is Huawei’s best play and are playing it even better than Ericsson and certainly bring a lot more to the table than Nokia.
The biggest question for me still on Huawei’s “data play” is how they stack up to Cisco Systems, Dell EMC, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise whose business is the private and hybrid. Huawei has the carriers attention and does have enterprise capabilities, but the others have 25 years’ enterprise experience and are more focused than ever. Enterprise is 7% of Huawei’s current business and 100% of Cisco, HPE and most of Dell EMC’s business. Huawei will do very well in the “carrier cloud” and will grow in the enterprise for sure, but they have a whole different kind of competition in the cloud.
Cloud ecosystem development
The last big point Hu emphasized was Huawei’s commitment to the development of the cloud ecosystem. Instead of simply releasing “a handful of clouds on its own,” in Hu’s words, Huawei is looking to help their customers build a variety of different clouds—in turn building out the entire cloud ecosystem. Huawei also has strategic business alliances with some big names—SAP, Accenture, Microsoft, and Intel, to name a few.
According to Hu, these alliances help promote openness, collaboration, and shared success for everyone, which in turn guarantees the ongoing development of the cloud ecosystem. He went on to stress the importance that everyone involved in the cloud ecosystem bring their unique strengths to the table, concluding the thought by saying, “We are Huawei. Our role is to make good products and serve our customers well.”
I’ll admit, I was initially surprised to see SAP’s and Accenture’s aggressiveness, but when you drill in, where Huawei is successful, SAP and Accenture want to be more successful, and vice-versa. Also, having Intel CEO Brian Krzanich on-stage day 3 I thought was a big deal.
Huawei Technologies is an impressive company. The company is a force with carriers and in smartphones. At Connect 16 in Shanghai, they did a good job communicating what they want to do, who they want to do it with and why they want to do it, but it was challenging to parse why they are better at what they do. I think the answer could lie in R&D and innovation. Huawei invested $9.2B into R&D in 2015, $38B over the last ten years which puts is in the top 5 of all high tech. They are also a leader in PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) published patent applications. Patents don’t guarantee future success but certainly is a leading indicator for innovation.
Huawei R&D 10 year investment (Source: Huawei)
It’s still far too soon to say whether or not Huawei is going to pull of their reinvention into the enterprise and the carrier cloud. Huawei has a long, successful track record in the telecom industry with carriers, and while that won’t necessarily automatically translate over to cloud and the enterprise, it speaks volumes to the company’s ability to be competitive, innovate, and stay on top of market trends. It’ll be interesting too to see if this new trajectory allows them to gain more ground in North America and Western Europe where they haven’t had as much success as China, APAC, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. I know the company will get big carrier wins, but what I’m most looking forward to are big enterprise cloud wins.