Don’t be nervous. There’s nothing to be nervous about. Aruba is the same—[Neri] has made the promise that we’ll keep the culture, the brand and the programs the same. This is the only way we know and the way we are as an organization. For [partners], they deal individually with various Aruba personnel out in the field and those things are not going to change. I think that was my peace in making this decision—the culture is so strong that it will persist.
That’s why past partners like who we are and like to do business with us. That’s why we like to do business with them. I think we built a very strong, co-dependent bond with each other and all our business goes through partners, so I don’t think that’s going to change in that regard at all. I think we will continue innovating with customers first in mind, and we’ll do it with partners at the heart of the program. So, no changes. Keep going. More importantly, the business momentum is phenomenal. The shift toward the edge is real and [Aruba] ESP [Edge Services Platform] is being very well received, so is Silver Peak and Wi-Fi 6. Across the board, the portfolio is on fire. Partners can really take advantage and benefit from that from a long-term perspective, and they can build franchises around ESP. HPE, by the way, our parent company, is also a channel-first company, so from that perspective, the culture is not just Aruba’s, it’s HPE’s too.
What’s your future vision for the ESP platform being a backbone to HPE’s as-a-service strategy?
We started out developing [the Aruba ESP] platform and it obviously became the cloud back end to help customers on-board themselves and operate their environments from this back end. It has since scaled to tens of millions of active users on the platform every day, and hundreds of millions of devices, so it’s become a true cloud-scale architecture with petabytes of data flowing into it every day. So, when HPE started to think about transforming to an as-a-service vision, they needed a cloud back end. Instead of reinventing the wheel and building yet another thing, [HPE] realized they had it already so they should just get up and go—those were the words that [Neri] said—’just get up and go.’ So, we basically stretched the platform to accommodate, effectively, the needs of the storage view, which [HPE] announced their version of their storage console and data services console in April. You’ll see the same thing happen with compute, and eventually any HPE platform that can be delivered as a service and managed from the cloud will use the ESP platform.
What’s the road map look like for Aruba partners, and do you see anything changing in the foreseeable future?
Aruba ESP we just launched this last year and these kinds of architectures tend to have a lifespan of five to seven years, so we are in the early innings. I think the edge is going to be more than five to seven years; I think it’s more like 10 years. So you will see more services being deployed on top of ESP. Security is one piece of it, and we talked a lot about SASE, so with [Hughes] taking over as CTO, he’ll continue to drive the development of that solution. Beyond security, I think, obviously, edge storage will be pretty significant. I just see the platform filling itself over the next 16 to 24 months. So definitely, from a partner perspective, if they are positioning ESP for customers, it has legs. Long legs.
Usually, founders stay on for a couple of years [post-acquisition], but [Neri] even said that [HPE’s acquisition of Aruba] was a reverse acquisition. He said: “You’re acquiring HP switching, yet HPE on paper is acquiring Aruba.” The real organizational acquisition was bringing switching into Aruba, so when he said that, it was really incumbent upon us to keep that Aruba flag flying since it wasn’t a traditional integration. And [Neri] kept up his end of the bargain, supporting us and doing everything he does to keep it going. I think he’s been our greatest cheerleader, greatest champion—as long as he’s at the helm, partners can have a sense of comfort that Aruba will stay true to its roots.
How will Mottram’s experience in telecom help shape Aruba’s future?
I think the two new leaders will be certainly bringing their unique expertise in those areas, and with [Mottram] coming from the telecom and 5G side, I think is an important piece to the overall vision of ESP—it was always part of the vision. So he brings some unique insight on how to integrate 5G with Wi-Fi.
I think when it comes to switching and Wi-Fi, we have all the world’s experts here and we’ve been doing it a long time. We have about 7,000 people behind [the leadership team] that are actually doing the day- to-day and what it takes to get it done. So, I have a lot of faith in them to continue developing what I consider the world’s best enterprise Wi-Fi and networking solution.
How do you feel as you leave Aruba to start the next chapter?
It is emotional, you know? Because ultimately, the whole journey is about relationships and people. Aruba on paper—it’s an abstract entity, so when people wonder what is Aruba? It’s a piece of paper incorporated. The real Aruba is the experiences and the people that make the company what it is in the community that we’ve built with it. That to me is the most fulfilling part of this journey—that depth of relationships and that genuine human regard we have for each other and the fact that everybody has each other’s backs—that’s what a community is about. Whether it’s a customer, partner or Aruba employee, it’s been incredible to see the notes I have received in last two days. On the one hand, [I have a] deep sense of gratitude for them for allowing and enabling this journey to actually happen. And beyond the cooperation and the technology and everything else, it is that culture we have built that people have said permits them to stay productive. And so, I think that’s why I feel confident moving forward.
It’s an emotional moment for me for sure. My wife was with me saying goodbye to Arubans today. It was a journey we started many years ago. My baby was four months old, and I told [my wife] I would not have a paycheck for 10 months. And she said: ’That’s fine. Go for it. We’ll figure it out.’ And it turned out to be 20-year journey from there. Obviously, there’s a lot of emotions tied up and it’ll take me time to process to be honest with you in the moment right now, but I have deep gratitude for everyone, especially our partners.