Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO: We have returned to the pre-pandemic level, things feel steady

By measure of workloads, not widgets, is how the company’s hybrid strategy should be regarded, says HPE CEO Antonio Neri.

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"When you think about apps and data, you need to think about workloads," says Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri. "You have workloads that require an enormous amount of compute, where the compute and data need to be co-located, and that is a perfect example of HPC, and we are the market leader."

Antonio Neri, chief executive officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, took some time Tuesday evening to chat with ZDNet by phone after the company reported revenue and profit for its fiscal fourth quarter that topped Wall Street's expectations, forecast this yеar's profit higher as well, and said it will relocate its headquarters from San Jose, California, to Houston, Texas.

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"I will say we finished the year with a very strong performance," Neri told ZDNet, adding, "The headline is the fact that we returned revenue to the pre-pandemic level, which is the $7.2 billion that we just posted."

Neri has been steadily moving more and more products of the company to an "as-a-service" model, where products can be used regardless of where they are deployed, be it in a public cloud environment or a customer's own data center facility.

Individual line items are a validation of that strategy, he said, such as the company's annualized revenue run rate of $585 million, which rose 11% from the prior quarter, and 30%, year over year. 

But there are other, qualitative indicators, he said, that indicate Hewlett's approach is the right one.

"When you think about apps and data, you need to think about workloads," he said, "you have workloads that require an enormous amount of compute, where the compute and data need to be co-located, and that is a perfect example of HPC, and we are the market leader."

Also: Hewlett Packard Enterprise to relocate to Houston; Q4 results top expectations

Neri pointed out how Hewlett is taking or intends to take market share in multiple categories, particularly its growth businesses. For example, the Intelligent Edge products, which include wired and wireless networking equipment, rose 14% from the prior quarter to $786 million. "We will take share," said Neri. 

In the company's High-Performance Compute & Mission Critical Systems products, where revenue rose 25%, year over year, Neri emphasized "We are the market leader in HPC, we own 37% of the share and growing, the next competitor is ten points behind us, we have won five out of the six exascale systems."

Asked about Hewlett's decision to move its HQ to Houston, Texas, from San Jose, California, Neri presented it as a new arrangement of two major centers.

"We have created two major hubs," in Texas and California, Neri said. "One is a technology hub, where a lot of innovation gets created, that's Silicon Valley, the San Jose building, which is a true, state-of-the-art digital." That facility will be "the house for Aruba, Intelligent Edge, storage, software, and HP Labs, which is "going to be phenomenal." 

"On the Houston side, a lot of that is compute today, silicon that we developed, and corporate functions."

The choice as an ability to "rationalize our footprint," said Neri, and he lauded "the ability to attract diverse talent," which is "very unique" in Houston.

Neri said Hewlett has learned during the pandemic about how people want to work, a nod to the fact that many may want to be in their local environment, or working from home some of the time. 

Summing up the quarter, he remarked, "We feel we have the right portfolio, we have executed better, we are gaining momentum, obviously there's still a lot of uncertainty out there, but it feels steady at this point in time." 

HPE stock is down slightly in morning trading.