An HPE spokesman confirmed Gillai’s pending departure. Gillai will be replaced by David Sliter, who has been head of the Communications & Media Solutions team within CSB for more than four years.
Gillai’s departure might not have the same impact as, say, spinning off the Software business and merging it with Micro Focus in an $8.8 billion deal. But to those who have been following HPE‘s moves into software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), it’s a big deal.
Gillai joined the company in 2010 through Hewlett-Packard’s acquisition of 3Com and led its cloud business. In 2014, he was named head of CSB, which included CMS as well as the NFV group that had been started by Bethany Meyer, now CEO of Ixia.
Gillai was also named head of HP‘s telecom vertical. The company’s networking business had been enterprise-focused, so to get established in NFV, HP needed to be more friendly with service providers. (HP would later split up, with the networking business going to HPE.)
There’s no word yet on why Gillai made this decision or what he’ll be doing next.
HPE is undergoing a major facelift. In addition to the Micro Focus deal, the company’s Enterprise Services division is being spun off and merged with CSC.
The major piece of HPE that will remain when the smoke clears appears to be the Enterprise Group, which includes servers, storage, and networking. Put another way, HPE appears to be paring itself down to focus on infrastructure and the software to manage that infrastructure.
Separately, HPE broadened its partnership with Arista last week, saying it will directly sell Arista’s switches for deals related to the software-defined data center (SDDC), starting Nov. 7.
The announcement, which came during HPE’s Global Partner Conference in Boston, “gives HPE and its partners a new data center networking portfolio that is compelling when competing against Cisco,” an HPE spokesman writes in an email.
HPE offers its own networking equipment. Last year, though, it reached out to Arista as a partner, integrating the company’s switches into HPE’s converged infrastructure offerings.
“At HPE, their server and storage groups operate separately from the networking group,” says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. In other words, the converged infrastructure group felt free to pick switches from anywhere in the industry.
“I think their [HPE’s] data center stuff is OK, but it’s not Arista. You could argue that Arista has the best data center stuff in the industry,” Kerravala says.
He sees the expanded HPE-Arista partnership as HPE’s attempt at getting more solid footing in the data center.
“It’s important for HPE to get their data center act together, because make no mistake, Dell EMC is coming after them,” he says.
In a blog entry, HPE made it a point to say it would continue selling its own networking gear.
Its FlexFabric line will continue being applied to the traditional data center, as opposed to the SDDC. HPE will also continue to sell its Altoline white box switches, which can be outfitted with a network operating system from Pica8.
Kerravala notes that you have to distinguish HPE’s data center networking products from the campus networking products. The latter are doing well under the leadership of the former Aruba team, he says.
Photo: Gillai in 2014.