HPE Opens New HQ, Highlights Lab Research Advances

NEWS ANALYSIS: At the opening of its new San Jose, Calif. headquarters HPE showed off advances in security, big data and artificial intelligence as well as a new approach to wooing big corporate customers.

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SAN JOSE, Calif.––Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, the HP that produces enterprise IT systems but not printers, laptops or workstations, showed off its new headquarters here in the heart of Silicon Valley on April 30. The event included a media tour of its wide-ranging research facilities.

Among other projects, the tech giant is looking to vastly improve data center performance by replacing copper wire with photonics that can send transfer data at the speed of light.

“Copper has its limits in reach. With photonics, 1km reach is easily attainable,” said Ashkan Seyedi, a senior research scientist at Hewlett-Packard Labs. He also said the technology requires as little as 1/50th the power of a traditional data center interconnect.

Security research was also highlighted, including servers and other products HPE is already shipping with advanced protections.

“Today we are building in protection and recovery to all devices, so you don’t have to pay ransomware,” said Gary Campbell, Vice-President of Hewlett Packard Labs and Director of the Security Lab. “The silicon checks all the software stacks, including areas antivirus and other software can’t check.” 

One of the newer features Campbell discussed is a “digital fingerprint” on its servers. There is security software embedded in all components, including such items as power supplies and fans that lets the company determine if anything has been altered that shouldn’t have been.

Analyzing Data at the Edge

While we are generating more data than ever before, Kirk Bresniker, Chief Architect of Hewlett-Packard Labs and an HPE Fellow, said there is great promise in being able to analyze and leverage the vast amounts of data that isn’t saved as well as data “hiding in plain sight” because it’s siloed.

“Look at something like connected cars. There is all the data generated by lidars and cameras in vehicles that’s kind of data at the edge that we want to be able to harness in real time, not back in the data center,” Bresniker said in an interview with eWEEK. “We want to be able to move analysis to where the data is (being generated).”

He also said HPE is researching ways to use machine learning to analyze vast stores of data in an unsupervised way to work on complex business problems and other big data challenges, such as the underlying cause of diseases that include Alzheimer’s.

An Executive Briefing Center That’s Fun

The new HPE headquarters is also breaking new ground in terms of how its used to pitch customers. The gleaming Executive Briefing Center has a kind of interactive museum feel with an immersive movie theater and an Innovation Showcase of exhibits, each with a touch screen computer you can use to find out more.  HPE CEO Antonio Neri, who studied art in his native Argentina, had a lot of input and suggestions on the design of the EBC and that the Innovation Showcase was his idea.

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One of these exhibits shows an astronaut (at left) in a space suit, and the touch screen next to it can be used to find out more about how HPE is working with NASA on a manned mission to Mars and the aerospace industry in general.

“Executive briefing centers have always been about a lot of conference rooms and presentations. We have those too, but the feedback we always get is to stop the PowerPoint and show us how the company works,” said James Woloszyn, vice president of worldwide customer advocacy at HPE.

Another area features a huge digital “smart table” where HPE leads discussion groups on such topics as the city of the future. The touchscreen table can display infographics, videos and other information designed to drive the discussion.

An immersive theater features three walls of screens that feels like a more personalized planetarium experience. Woloszyn said videos are tailored to a customer’s particular industry and where HPE has products and services to match.

“We try to bring an emotional element and inspire the customers,” Woloszyn said.

The opening day event for the 1,300 employees featured an appearance by Neri and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo along with cheerleaders and a marching band. HPE announced a raft of new employee benefits, including six months paid parental leave for new parents.

San Jose touts itself as “the capital of Silicon Valley,” and Liccardo noted that the city has the highest rate of patent authorship in the U.S. “HPE will fit right in,” he said.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...