The Doppler Quarterly Summer 2018 - Page 35

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s former VP of Information Technology shares his lessons learned after transforming 90% of the organization’s applications. By conventional measures, the cloud-first transfor- mation Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) executed would have to be labeled a success. After all, we shrunk our data center footprint from nearly 500 to just four, took $2 billion in costs out of the business, and migrated 90 percent of our apps to a combination of PaaS, SaaS and private/public cloud. But, as Arianna Huffington once said, the path to suc- cess is “not a straight line.” She described it as “much more of a dance, and being open to possibilities,” and we can relate to that. We had to do our share of danc- ing to move past obstacles we inadvertently put in our own path. We of course were open to all possibil- ities as we moved through the process. But we didn’t take advantage of all the best practices at our dis- posal – such as the ones HPE and Cloud Technology Partners (CTP) deploy today: creating a Cloud Busi- ness Office (CBO), or following a plan that connects the impacts of specific events in a more holistic way. Here’s a rundown of how we executed our cloud-first transformation, and the valuable lessons we learned along the way. Embarking on a Journey In the beginning, we focused our plan on cutting costs and improving agility. We had too many data centers – 85 large properties and more than 400 small sites (under 10,000 square feet) in 29 countries. We also had about 7,000 applications in our portfolio, including more than 100 instances of SAP. This was the result of 35 years of inadequately inte- grating acquisitions. When we acquired a company, at least one data center came along with the deal. To keep peace with the acquired company, HPE man- agement told IT to leave them alone for three years, and then go in and integrate the systems. Three years would go by, and the will and the funding would not be there, so many of the integrations just never got done. We arrived at a point where we were spending just north of $4 billion a year on IT – about 4 percent of the old HP’s $115 billion in annual revenues. For years, that seemed like a reasonable percentage. Companies we saw as our peers – Google, Twitter, Facebook (which we liked to joke could be seen from our offices in Palo Alto) – hovered around the 4 percent mark. But they were different. When Google spends 4 per- cent on IT, it is using its IT budget to build products. We were an IT company, but we were spending 4 per- cent on IT just to manage our business. We should have been comparing ourselves to engineering and manufacturing companies like IBM, Cisco and GE, which tend to spend about 2 percent of revenue on IT. So we had to put together a program to get down to 2 percent. We did just that, going through a grueling exercise of consolidation, virtualization and automation. We SUMMER 2018 | THE DOPPLER | 33