HPE Releases New GreenLake Storage Options, Partners with VAST Data

HPE GreenLake diagram


Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced a set of compelling new storage-related offerings this week, surprising us with the news that it tapped VAST Data to deliver the engine behind the new HPE GreenLake for File Services.

GreenLake is a clear success for HPE. Customers like its flexible consumption-based experience. HPE GreenLake lives up to the promise of cloud-like simplicity, delivered with the benefits of traditional on-prem infrastructure

Despite its success, GreenLake has been missing some key features. This is especially true when looking at the overall GreenLake storage story, which has evolved slowly. For example, HPE’s block storage capabilities, based on its Nimble Storage and Primera products, show their age. The company also hasn’t released a compelling file storage solution in recent memory.

HPE closed those gaps this week while also enhancing its data protection story. Let’s look at what was announced on the storage front.

News: HPE’s New Alletra Disaggregated Storage Platform

HPE introduced its Alletra branding in 2021 at its annual HPE Discover event. The original Alletra release was a bridge product for HPE. The company had two distinct and incompatible codebases for block storage with its Nimble Storage and Primera storage stacks, and it released a separate Alletra model to run each.

Multiple incompatible products in the same space from a single vendor confuses customers. It also leads to inefficiencies and unneeded costs for the company building the products. While not replacing its existing Alletra offerings, HPE went a long way towards solving its inefficiency problem with its new multi-personality Alletra Storage MP platform this week.

The Alletra Storage MP is designed for disaggregated scale-out storage. The Alletra Storage MP is built on a 2RU chassis containing up to two controllers and up to twenty SSDs. The actual deployed configuration will depend on the software that is running. HPE delivers its new GreenLake Block Storage and GreenLake File Storage solutions on the same Alletra Storage MP hardware (though not simultaneously).

Image of HPE's Alletra Storage MP platform


HPE Alletra Storage MP with Block and File StorageHEWLETT PACKARD ENTERPRISE

News: HPE GreenLake for File Storage, powered by VAST Data

HPE closed its gap in file storage with the introduction of HPE GreenLake for File Storage. The new solution is based on VAST Data’s well-proven disaggregated shared-everything (DASE) architecture and runs on the new Alletra Storage MP platform.

VAST and HPE spent much of the past year integrating VAST’s solution into the HPE GreenLake environment. The bulk of this work has been integrating the management plane, giving the VAST software a GreenLake look and feel. The result is a fully integrated native file solution for GreenLake.

The new file storage solution allows customers to independently scale the Alletra Storage MP controller and storage nodes. The nodes communicate via a 100Gb-E NVMe fabric, routing traffic through HPE Aruba switches.

Missing Object Storage Functionality

Not All VAST Capabilities are available, however. In a puzzling move, HPE chose not to enable VAST Data’s object storage capabilities. This is a notable gap. Nearly every competing storage solution for unstructured handles both file and object, with VAST’s object performance among the best in the industry.

I asked Tom Black, who leads HPE’s storage business, why HPE omitted object storage. Tom told me that I should stay tuned. HPE understands the need for object storage. However, he said that the integration with VAST Data was intense, and they didn’t want to complicate the effort by attempting to deliver a multi-protocol device right off the bat.

My interpretation of this is that HPE prioritized time-to-market for file storage over full file-and-object capability. HPE Discover is right around the corner, and Antonio promised this is the year of storage. So I’m sure object isn’t far off. The big question is whether HPE extends its solution with VAST Data’s object storage capabilities or if it develops its own software for fast object storage. Whichever way it goes, it will run on the new multi-protocol Alletra Storage MP platform.

News: HPE GreenLake for Block Storage

HPE has combined the best of its Primera and Nimble Storage solutions, rolling them into the new HPE GreenLake for Block Storage. Leveraging the same Alletra Storage MP platform as its file storage solution, HPE GreenLake Block Storage.

HPE tells us that the block storage offering enables HPE to offer mission-critical storage’s availability, performance, and scalability with mid-range economics. HPE also claims the solution is the industry’s first disaggregated scale-out block storage with a 100% data availability guarantee. While that may be correct, as this is a block-only solution, Infinidat might have a quibble with that claim.

HPE GreenLake for Block Storage is a solid offering that should meet or exceed any competitive challenger. I’m happy to see the release.


There’s a lot in HPE’s GreenLake announcements. Beyond the new block and file offerings, the company also announced new data protection capabilities for HPE GreenLake with its new GreenLake Backup and Recovery and GreenLake Disaster Recovery solutions.

The heart of the announcements, however, is about storage. There’s a tremendous impact for VAST Data in this news and an equally critical impact on HPE’s GreenLake business. Nearly everything here is positive.

Impact for VAST Data

We don’t know a lot about the agreement between HPE and VAST Data. For instance, we don’t know what protections are in place to stop deal conflicts between HPE and VAST’s channel. We don’t know the license terms between VAST and HPE, and how that might impact VAST’s (or HPE’s) bottom line. We don’t know if VAST Data can come to a similar agreement with HPE’s tier-one competitors, such as Lenovo, creating potential partner conflict.

Most importantly, we don’t know why HPE chose to license such a critical capability for its flagship GreenLake offering. This is the kind of IP that a company like HPE typically brings in via an acquisition – and HPE likes a good acquisition. Even with contractual protections in place, this must make HPE somewhat uncomfortable. Perhaps the price tag for purchasing VAST is too high. After all, the company is experiencing explosive growth.

What is clear is that this deal is both a considerable credibility boost and a significant SAM-expander for VAST. HPE will bring VAST Data’s technology into customers that VAST likely couldn’t obtain on its own. The feedback loop between the two companies will only make each other’s offerings better.

VAST Data also aspires to reach beyond simply delivering storage solutions. VAST has been open in talking about its vision for the future. For example, it’s been adding capabilities that help enterprises understand the unstructured data stored on its systems. That’s not something storage companies typically delve into.

I talked with Jeff Denwoth, CMO and co-founder of VAST Data, while in Houston (you can watch the video on YouTube). Jeff said that VAST Data is “working on essentially building a Thinking Machine” and that “in June, we’ll explain all the parts that go into that.” I’m anxious to hear the details of that announcement.

Impact for HPE

The impact of the announcements for HPE is no less significant. GreenLake is HPE’s future. HPE has grown the offering from 400 customers in its first year to more than 65,000 today. GreenLake has over 2 million connected devices and has more than an exabyte of data under management. More than 80% of HPE’s largest customers are using GreenLake.

Antonio said of GreenLake during the most recent HPE earnings call: “The relevance of HPE GreenLake with customers, combined with our disciplined execution, has propelled both ARR and our as-a-service total contract value higher. Over the last 2 years, we have more than doubled our as-a-service total contract value, reaching nearly $10 billion through the end of this quarter.”

GreenLake delivers an overall experience that Dell Technologies tries to emulate with its APEX consumption-based offerings, but doesn’t match the overall experience. Lenovo comes closer than Dell with its TruScale solution, though it doesn’t yet have the breadth of offerings that HPE can deliver.

Delivering a full cloud-like experience with its managed GreenLake consumption-based model requires comprehensive compute, storage, and networking capabilities. Unfortunately, HPE’s storage has long been missing high-performance file storage, and its block storage shows its age. HPE fixed both of those problems this week.

The new storage offerings and data protection features address the entire data lifecycle with which enterprises struggle. But HPE isn’t resting on these announcements. After all, it’s the “year of storage” for the company. HPE promises more is coming, and sooner than you might think. Everything HPE announced are just building blocks for more complex solutions. We’ll hear more on this from HPE on this in June at Discover. I can’t wait.

Disclosure: The author is an industry analyst, and NAND Research an industry analyst firm, that engages in, or has engaged in, research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, which may include those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.