New HPE Servers Run Enterprise Applications at Network Edge

At Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Discover 2018 event, the company unveiled new Edgeline servers with compute and storage capabilities that run unmodified workloads such as SAP Hana and Azure at the network edge.

HPE Edgeline Servers

LAS VEGAS—Hewlett Packard Enterprise wants to enable organizations to run the same enterprise-class applications at the network edge as they do in their data centers and the cloud.

At the company’s Discover 2018 show here June 20, HPE officials unveiled a range of new hardware offerings based on their   that are designed to give enterprises the compute and storage capabilities they need to run full workloads at the edge rather than having to send data to the cloud or data center.

Tom Bradicich, vice president and general manager of HPE’s IoT and Converged Edge Systems unit, said during a press conference that the vendor is offering tested and validated system architectures for running a variety of software stacks on the Intel-powered Edgeline EL1000 (pictured) and EL4000 systems in combination with data center and cloud deployments.

Those software stacks include Microsoft’s SQL Server and Azure technologies, SAP Hana, PTC’s ThingWorx, Citrix’s XenApp and XenDesktop, GE Digital’s Predix internet of things (IoT) platform and the SparkPredict AI software from startup SparkCognition.

The company also is introducing the Edgeline Extended Storage adapter option it, which can add up to 48TB of software-defined storage for the Edgeline systems. With the adapter, the systems enable businesses to more easily process storage-intensive use cases such as artificial intelligence (AI), databases and video analytics at the edge.

The goal of the new server is to give organizations the ability to run the same applications at the edge as they do in the data center and the cloud, Bradicich said. Vendors are pushing a lot more compute power out to the edge—closer to where an increasing amount of the data is being generated—but many of the systems being offered have less powerful processors or less memory than those in the data center and cloud, which means the enterprises are forced to run modified versions of their applications.

The new Edgeline Converged Edge systems have the same compute and storage capabilities as those running in the cloud and data centers.

“It’s the same high-performance, high-power technology that we see in the cloud, but out at the edge,” Bradicich said.

The unveiling of the new systems is the latest step in HPE’s focus on edge computing, which Bradicich described as any computing that doesn’t happen in the data center or the cloud. That can include the manufacturing floor, oil and gas rigs, wind farms and smart cities, he said. Company officials point to Gartner numbers that say that by 2022, 75 percent of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed somewhere else than within traditional data centers or the cloud, a massive increase compared to the 10 percent level this year.

At the show, CEO Antonio Neri announced that HPE will invest $4 billion over the next four years to develop edge technologies and services. During his keynote address June 19, Neri said that the edge “is where you manufacture your products, where your employees work every day. The edge is everywhere technology gets put into action and I believe the edge is the next big opportunity for all of us.”

Being able to process full, unmodified enterprise workloads at the edge essentially gives businesses a second on-premises environment (along with the traditional data center) and removes the need to move data and workloads back and forth between the edge and the cloud, which provides faster response times and lower bandwidth costs, Bradicich said.

It also means that enterprises don’t have to spend money on special software versions of their applications to run at the edge and that the software at the can be managed by the same tools that are used for data center and cloud applications. Security and reliability also are improved in this configuration.

Mike Orr, director of digital transformation at Murphy Oil, said the petroleum and natural gas exploration company has a number of remote sites—such as platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, Malaysia and Vietnam—that need compute capabilities onsite to run their applications, process and analyze the data they’re generating and adopt such technologies as AI and machine learning. Murphy Oil is planning to bring the system to a platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We can now run applications they way they need to run as close to the [source] that we can get,” Orr said during the press conference.

HPE isn’t the only vendor to put money and resources into edge computing, but Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, told eWEEK that the company was ahead of what promises to be a large edge computing market when it launched the Edgeline portfolio several years ago.

Around that time, the belief was that most enterprise workloads would move to the cloud with lightweight gateways handling traffic at the edge. Now the edge is growing in importance, and Moorhead said he expects HPE and Dell EMC to compete aggressively in the space. The new Edgeline systems and the storage adapter was a good move for HPE.

Many in the industry said businesses “couldn’t really run hyperconverged and storage at the edge,” he said. “What they did, particularly in storage, was open that up.”