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HPE’s $4bn bet: CEO Antonio Neri says edge computing is the next frontier of enterprise tech

HPE CEO Antonio Neri has outlined plans to invest $4bn in edge computing technologies over the next four years, saying the field represents “the next evolution in enterprise technology”.

Speaking at HPE Discover in Las Vegas last night, Neri predicted that businesses will soon “require millions of distributed clouds that enable real-time insights and personalized experiences exactly where the action is happening”.

The CEO, who took over from Meg Whitman in February, cited Gartner research predicting that 75 per cent of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside of the data centre or cloud by 2022.

HPE is only the latest tech giant to unveil a major push into edge computing. In May, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella declared that the “era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us”. Rival cloud giants Amazon and Google have also touted the intelligent edge as the future of cloud computing.

Processing data at the edge, rather than centrally, has two major benefits. Because the data is generated and processed where devices are located, latency is much lower. It can also cut down on the cost of relaying data to and from central data centres.

It’s for these reasons that edge computing has been marketed as a boon for self-driving cars and the next generation of health diagnostic tools. “Data is the new intellectual property, and companies that can distill intelligence from their data —whether in a smart hospital or an autonomous car—will be the ones to lead,” said Neri.

Under his watch, HPE acquired edge computing firm Aruba in 2015. It now offers a range of services to support edge computing, including wireless LAN, campus switching and analytics services, among others. The latest R&D spending spree, said Neri, will fund new products, services and consumption models.

Nick McQuire, vice president of enterprise research at CCS Insight, described the investment as “bold statement of intent within an arms race of sorts”. “HPE’s challenge will be in making this investment pay off against the giants such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon who have equally set their sights on edge computing moving forward.”