HPE’s Erik Vogel on Key Factors for Driving Success in Hybrid Cloud Adoption and Optimization
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HPE Strategist Mark Linesch
On the Role of Containers in
Advancing the Hybrid Estate
A discussion on containers innovation and next developments in automated and extensible IT
infrastructure container solutions for hybrid IT and multicloud.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett
Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the BriefingsDirect Voice of
the Innovator podcast series. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor
Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing discussion on the latest insights into
hybrid cloud and composability strategies.
Openness, flexibility, and speed to distributed deployments have been top drivers of the
steady growth of container-based solutions. Now, IT operators are looking to increase
automation, built-in intelligence, and robust management as they seek container-
enabled hybrid cloud and multicloud approaches for data and workloads.
Stay with us now as we examine the rapidly evolving
containers innovation landscape and learn about the next
chapter of automated and extensible IT infrastructure
solutions with Mark Linesch, Vice President of
Technology Strategy in the CTO Office and Hewlett
Packard Labs at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).
Welcome to BriefingsDirect, Mark.
Mark Linesch: Thanks, Dana. It’s great to be here.
Gardner: Let’s look at the state of the industry around
containers. What are the top drivers for containers
adoption now that the technology has matured?
Containers catch on
Linesch: The history of computing, as far back as I can remember, has been about
abstraction; abstraction of the infrastructure and then a separation of concern between
the infrastructure and the applications.
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It used to be it was all bare metal, and then about a decade ago, we went on the journey
to virtualization. And virtualization is great, it’s an abstraction that allows for certain
amount of agility. But it’s fairly expensive because you are virtualizing the entire
infrastructure, if you will, and dragging along a unique operating system (OS) each time
you do that.
So the industry for the last few years has been saying, “Well, what’s next, what’s after
virtualization?” And clearly things like containerization are starting to catch hold.
Why now? Well, because we are living in a hybrid cloud world, and we are moving pretty
aggressively toward a more distributed edge-to-cloud world. We are going to be
computing, analyzing, and driving intelligence in all of our edges -- and all of our clouds.
Things such as performance- and developer-aware capabilities, DevOps, the ability to
run an application in a private cloud and then move it to a public cloud, and being able to
drive applications to edge environments on a harsh factory floor -- these are all aspects
of this new distributed computing environment that we are entering into. It’s a hybrid
estate, if you will.
Containers have advantages for a lot of different constituents in this hybrid estate world.
First and foremost are the developers. If you think about development and developers in
general, they have moved from the older, monolithic and waterfall-oriented approaches
to much more agile and continuous integration and continuous delivery models.
And containers give developers a
predictable environment wherein they can
couple not only the application but the
application dependencies, the libraries,
and all that they need to run an
application throughout the DevOps
lifecycle. That means from development
through test, production, and delivery.
Containers carry and encapsulate all of the app’s requirements to develop, run, test, and
scale. With bare metal or virtualization, as the app moved through the DevOps cycle, I
had to worry about the OS dependencies and the type of platforms I was running that
Developers’ package deal
A key thing for developers is they can package the application and all the
dependencies together into a distinct manifest. It can be version-controlled and easily
replicated. And so the developer can debug and diagnose across different environments
and save an enormous amount of time. So developers are the first beneficiaries, if you
will, of this maturing containerized environment.
Containers give developers a
predictable environment wherein
they can couple not only the
application but the application
dependencies, the libraries, and all
that they need to run an application
throughout the DevOps lifecycle.
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But next are the IT operations folks because they now have a good separation of
concern. They don’t have to worry about reconfiguring and patching all these kinds of
things when they get a hand-off from developers into a production environment. That
capability is fundamentally encapsulated for them, and so they have an easier time
And increasingly in this more hybrid distributed edge-to-cloud world, I can run those
containers virtually anywhere. I can run them at the edge, in a public cloud, in a private
cloud, and I can move those applications quickly without all of these prior dependencies
that virtualization or bare metal required. It contains an entire runtime environment and
application, plus all the dependencies, all the libraries, and the like.
The third area that’s interesting for containers is around isolation. Containers virtualize
the CPU, the memory, storage network resources – and they do that at the OS level. So
they use resources much more efficiently for that reason.
How to Modernize Your IT
With Container Technology
Unlike virtualization, which includes your entire OS as well as the application,
containers run on a single OS. Each container shares the OS kernel with other
containers, so it’s lightweight, uses much fewer resources, and spins up almost instantly
-- in seconds versus virtual machines (VMs) that spin up in minutes.
When you think about this fast-paced, DevOps world
we live in -- this increasingly distributed hybrid estate
from the many edges and many clouds we compute
and analyze data in -- that’s why containers are
showing quite a bit of popularity. It’s because of the
business benefits, the technical benefits, the
development benefits, and the operations benefits.
Gardner: It’s been fascinating for me to see the portability and fit-for-purpose
containerization benefits, and being able to pass those along a DevOps continuum. But
one of the things that we saw with virtualization was that too much of a good thing spun
out of control. There was sprawl, lack of insight and management, and eventually waste.
How do we head that off with containers? How do containers become manageable
across that entire hybrid estate?
Setting the standard
Linesch: One way is standardizing the container formats, and that’s been coming along
fairly nicely. There is an initiative called The Open Container Initiative, part of the Linux
Foundation, that develops to the industry standard so that these containers, formats, and
Containers [are popular]
because of the business
benefits, the technical
benefits, the development
benefits, and the
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runtime software associated with them are standardized across the different platforms.
That helps a lot.
Number two is using a standard deployment option. And the one that seems to be
gripping the industry is Kubernetes. Kubernetes is an open source capability that
provides mechanisms for deploying, maintaining, and scaling containerized applications.
Now, the combination of the standard formats from a runtime perspective with the ability
to manage that with capabilities like Mesosphere or Kubernetes has provided the tooling
and the capabilities to move this forward.
Gardner: And the timing couldn’t be better, because as people are now focused on as-
a-service for so much -- whether it’s an application, infrastructure, and increasingly,
entire data centers -- we can focus on the business benefits and not the underlying
technology. No one really cares whether it’s running in a virtualized environment, on
bare metal, or in a container -- as long as you are getting the business benefits.
Linesch: You mentioned that nobody really cares what they are running on, and I would
postulate that they shouldn’t care. In other words, developers should develop, operators
should operate. The first business benefit is the enormous agility that developers get and
that IT operators get in utilizing standard containerized environments.
Not only do they get an operations benefit, faster
development, lower cost to operate, and those
types of things, but they take less resources. So
containers, because of their shared and abstracted
environment, really take a lot fewer resources out
of a server and storage complex, out of a cluster,
so you can run your applications faster, with less
resources, and at lower total cost.
This is very important when you think about IT composability in general because the
combination of containerized environments with things like composable infrastructure
provides the flexibility and agility to meet the needs of customers in a very time sensitive
and very agile way.
Gardner: How are IT operators making a tag team of composability and
containerization? Are they forming a whole greater than the sum of the parts? How do
you see these two spurring innovation?
Linesch: I have managed some of our R&D centers. These are usually 50,000-square-
foot data centers where all of our developers and hardware and software writers are off
doing great work.
And we did some interesting things a few years ago. We were fully virtualized, a kind of
private cloud environment, so we could deliver infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)
resources to these developers. But as hybrid cloud hit and became more of a mature
Containers, because of their
shared and abstracted
environment, really take a lot
fewer resources out of a
server and storage complex.
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and known pattern, our developers were saying, “Look, I need to spin this stuff up more
quickly. I need to be able to run through my development-test pipeline more effectively.”
And containers-as-a-service was just a super hit for these guys. They are under
pressure every day to develop, build, and run these applications with the right security,
portability, performance, and stability. The containerized systems -- and being able to
quickly spin up a container, to do work, package that all, and then move it through their
pipelines -- became very, very important.
From an infrastructure operations perspective, it provides a perfect marriage between
the developers and the operators. The operators can use composition and things like our
HPE Synergy platform and our HPE OneView tooling to quickly build container image
templates. These then allow those developers to populate that containers-as-a-service
infrastructure with the work that they do -- and do that very quickly.
How to Extend the Cloud Experience
Across Your Enterprise
Gardner: Another hot topic these days is understanding how a continuum will evolve
between the edge deployments and a core cloud, or hybrid cloud environment. How do
containers help in that regard? How is there a core-to-cloud and/or core-to-cloud-to-edge
benefit when containers are used?
Gaining an edge
Linesch: I mentioned that we are moving to a much more distributed computing
environment, where we are going to be injecting intelligence and processing through all
of our places, people, and things. And so when you think about that type of an
environment, you are saying, “Well, I’m going to develop an application. That application
may require more microservices or more modular architecture. It may require that I have
some machine learning (ML) or some deep learning analytics as part of that application.
And it may then need to be provisioned to 40 -- or 400 -- different sites from a
When you think about edge-to-cloud, you might have a set of factories in different parts
of the United States. For example, you may have 10 factories all seeking to develop
inferencing and analyzed actions on some type of an industrial process. It might be
video cameras attached to an assembly line looking for defects and ingesting data and
analyzing that data right there, and then taking some type of a remediation action.
And so as we think about this edge-to-cloud dance, one of the things that’s critical there
is continuous integration and continuous delivery -- of being able to develop these
applications and the artificial intelligence (AI) models associated with analyzing the data
on an ongoing basis. The AI models, quite frankly, drift and they need to be updated
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periodically. And so continuous integration and continuous delivery types of
methodologies are becoming very important.
Then, how do I package up all of those application bits, analytics bits, and ML bits? How
do I provision that to those 10 factories? How do I do that in a very fast and fluid way?
That’s where containers really shine.
They will give you bare-metal
performance. They are packaged and
portable – and that really lends itself to
the fast-paced delivery and delivery
cycles required for these kinds of
intelligent edge and Internet of Things
Gardner: We have heard a lot about AIOps and injecting more intelligence into more
aspects of IT infrastructure, particularly at the June HPE Discover conference. But we
seem to be focusing on the gathering of the data and the analysis of the data, and not so
much on the what do you do with that analysis – the execution based on the inferences.
It seems to me that containers provide a strong means when it comes to being able to
exploit recommendations from an AI engine and then doing something -- whether to
deploy, to migrate, to port.
Am I off on some rough tangent? Or is there something about containers -- and being
able to deftly execute on what the intelligence provides -- that might also be of benefit?
How to Optimize Your IT Operations
With Composable Infrastructure
Linesch: At the edge, you are talking about many applications where a large amount of
data needs to be ingested. It needs to be analyzed, and then take a real-time action from
a predictive maintenance, classification, or remediation perspective.
And so containers spin up very quickly. They use very few resources. The whole cycle-
time of ingesting data, analyzing that data through a container framework, taking some
action back to the thing that you are analyzing is made a whole lot easier and a whole lot
performant with less resources when you use containers.
Now, virtualization still has a very solid set of constituents, both at the hybrid cloud and
at the intelligent edge. But we are seeing the benefits of containers really shine in these
more distributed edge-to-cloud environments.
Gardner: Mark, we have chunked this out among the developer to operations and
deployment, or DevOps implications. And we have talked about the edge and cloud.
Containers really shine ... they are
packaged and portable – and that really
lends itself to the fast-paced delivery
and delivery cycles required for …
intelligent edge and IoT operations.
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But what about at the larger abstraction of impacting the IT organization? Is there a
benefit for containerization where IT is resource-constrained when it comes to labor and
skills? Is there a people, skills, and talent side of this that we haven’t yet tapped into?
Customer microservices support
Linesch: There definitely is. One of the things that we do at HPE is try to help
customers move into these new models like containers, DevOps, and continuous
integration and delivery. We offer a set of services that help customers, whether they are
medium-sized customers or large customers, to think differently about development of
applications. As a result, they are able to become more agile and microservices-
Microservice-oriented development really lends itself to this idea of containers, and the
ability of containers to interact with each other as a full-set application. What you see
happening is that you have to have a reason not to use containers now.
That’s pretty exciting, quite frankly. It gives us an opportunity to help customers to
engage from an education perspective, and from a consulting, integration, and support
perspective as they journey through microservices and how to re-architect their
Our customers are moving to a more continuous integration-continuous development
approach. And we can show them how to manage and operate these types of
environments with high automation and low operational cost.
How to Simplify and Automate
Across Your Datacenter
Gardner: A lot of the innovation we see along the lines of digital transformation at a
business level requires taking services and microservices from different deployment
models -- oftentimes multi-cloud, hybrid cloud, software-as-a-service (SaaS) services,
on-premises, bare metal, databases, and so forth.
Are you seeing innovation percolating in that way? If you have any examples, I would
love to hear them.
Linesch: I am seeing that. You see that every day when you look at the Internet. It’s a
collaboration of different services based on APIs. You collect a set of services for a
variety of different things from around these Internet endpoints, and that’s really as-a-
service. That’s what it’s all about -- the ability to orchestrate all of your applications and
collections of service endpoints.
Furthermore, beyond containers, there are new as-a-function-based, or serverless, types
of computing. These innovators basically say, “Hey, I want to consume a service from
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someplace, from an HTTP endpoint, and I want to do that very quickly.” They very
effectively are using service-oriented methodologies and the model of containers.
We are seeing a lot of innovation in these function-as-a-service (FaaS) capabilities that
some of the public clouds are now providing. And we are seeing a lot of innovation in the
overall operations at scale of these hybrid cloud environments, given the portability of
At HPE, we believe the cloud isn’t a place -- it’s an experience. The utilization of
containers provides a great experience for both the development community and the IT
operations community. It truly helps better support the business objectives of the
Investing in intelligent innovation
Gardner: Mark, for you personally, as you are looking for technology strategy, how do
you approach innovation? Is this something that comes organically, that bubbles up? Or
is there a solid process or workflow that gets you to innovation? How do you foster
innovation in your own particular way that works?
Linesch: At HPE, we have three big levers that we pull on when we think about
The first is we can do a lot of organic development -- and that’s very important. It
involves understanding where we think the industry is going, and trying to get ahead of
that. We can then prove that out with proof of concepts and incubation kinds of
opportunities with lead customers.
We also, of course, have a lever around inorganic innovation. For example, you saw
recently an acquisition by HPE of Cray to turbocharge the next generation of high-
performance computing (HPC) and to drive the next generation of exascale computing.
The third area is our partnerships and
investments. We have deep collaboration with
companies like Docker, for example. They have
been a great partner for a number of years, and
we have, quite frankly, helped to mature some
of that container management technology.
We are an active member of the standards organizations around the containers. Being
able to mature the technology with partners like Docker, to get at the business value of
some of these big advancements is important. So those are just three ways we innovate.
Longer term, with other HPE core innovations, such as composability and memory-
driven computing, we believe that containers are going to be even more important. You
[With our] partnerships and
investments … we have, quite
frankly, helped to mature
some of that container
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will be able to hold the containers in memory-driven computing systems, in either
Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) or storage-class memory (SCM).
You will be able to spin them up instantly or spin them down instantly. The composition
capabilities that we have will increasingly automate a very significant part of bringing up
such systems, of bringing up applications, and really scaling and moving those
applications to where they need to be.
One of the principles that we are focused on is moving the compute to the data -- as
opposed to moving the data to the compute. And the reason for that is when you move
the compute to the data, it’s a lot easier, simpler, and faster -- with less resources.
This next generation of distributed computing, memory-driven computing, and
composability is really ripe for what we call containers in microseconds. And we will be
able to do that all with the composability tooling we already have.
How to Manage Your Complex
Hybrid Cloud More Effectively
Gardner: When you get to that point, you’re not just talking about serverless. You’re
talking about cloudless. It doesn’t matter where the FaaS is being generated as long as
it’s at the right performance level that you require, when you require it. It’s very exciting.
Before we break, I wonder what guidance you have for organizations to become better
prepared to exploit containers, particularly in the context of composability and leveraging
a hybrid continuum of deployments? What should companies be doing now in order to
be getting better prepared to take advantage of containers?
Be prepared, get busy
Linesch: If you are developing applications, then think deeply about agile development
principles, and developing applications with a microservice-bent is very, very important.
If you are in IT operations, it’s all about being able to offer bare metal, virtualization, and
containers-as-a-service options -- depending on the workload and the requirements of
I recommend that companies not stand on the sidelines but to get busy, get to a proof of
concept with containers-as-a-service. We have a lot of expertise here at HPE. We have
a lot of great partners, such as Docker, and so we are happy to help and engage.
We have quite a bit of on-boarding and helpful services along the journey. And so jump
in and crawl, walk, and run through it. There are always some sharp corners on
advanced technology, but containers are maturing very quickly. We are here to help our
customers on that journey.
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Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. We have been exploring how openness,
flexibility, and speed to distributed deployments have been top drivers for the steady
growth of container-based solutions. And we have learned how IT operators now are
looking to increase automation, built-in intelligence, and robust management as they
seek to take advantage of container-enabled hybrid cloud models.
So please join me in thanking Mark Linesch, Vice President of Technology Strategy in
the CTO Office and Hewlett Packard Labs at HPE. Thank you so much, Mark,
Linesch: Thank you, Dana. I really enjoyed the conversation.
Gardner: And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining this BriefingsDirect
Voice of the Innovator interview. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor
Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of Hewlett Packard Enterprise-sponsored
Thanks again for listening. Please pass this along to your IT community, and do come
back next time.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett
A discussion on containers innovation and next developments in automated and extensible IT
infrastructure container solutions for hybrid IT and multicloud. Copyright Interarbor Solutions,
LLC, 2005-2019. All rights reserved.
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