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On Schopenhauer and HPE

My favorite philosopher is Arthur Schopenhauer. Not because of any great insights he has into the human condition, but because all of his philosophy is so obviously personal. He espoused what I can only describe as a supreme kvetching pessimism, this permeates his writings to an almost comical degree. This rises above simple complaint however, because all of it fits into his systematized worldview of malignant phenomenology.

Schopenhauer: Crankiest Old Man

Schopenhauer: Crankiest Old Man

What’s that? Yes, I’m getting to a point.

My favorite of his works is “On Noise“, in it, among so many other things, he rails against the use of horsewhips. These caused an insufferable amount of noise. I always find it interesting to reflect on this. A horsewhip is such an anachronism now, but in Schopenhauer’s day was extraordinarily common, or at least common enough that a cloistered cantankerous philosopher was angered by them. The reason they’re no longer seen is due to the advent of the car. One can only imagine the numerous horsewhip companies that went out of business during this transition (I’m guessing…all of them). The car was an unforeseen technology that disrupted the transportation industry in a few decades, catching less agile companies off guard. Any that survived did so because they abandoned a declining business when they still could before it was completely dead. So why bring this up now?

Well Enrico Signoretti wrote a piece while at HPE Discover and that’s what came to mind.

Enrico rightly points out that the physical server market is already getting eaten by software, which is in turn being eaten away by the cloud. The market is racing from the metal to increasing layers of abstraction. But from what he’s seeing from HPE, admittedly far more agile since the spin off, they’re still far too invested in the diminishing server market. To be fair, as the worldwide leader in server revenues, they’d be foolish to turn away completely. But where is the strategy going forward? The company is investing heavily in Composable Infrastructure with Synergy. I like the idea behind it, disaggregate ALL the things(!), but it’s competing in the increasingly crowded hyperconverged world, and from what I’m seeing isn’t providing the end-to-end solution that many would hope for.

HPE is also hyping The Machine (not this The Machine), their science project solution to everything. I only know one thing about The Machine, and it’s soured me considerably. They took memristors out of it! This has earned The Machine my eternal ire. Memristors are like carbon nanotubes, I only have a vague understanding of what they, but I know they are awesome. Thanks HPE.

Is HPE the horsewhip to the Model T of cloud computing? Let’s not be dramatic. Like Enrico points out, they’re in a much better space to compete after spinning out. They still dominate the shrinking but sizable server revenues. And on principal I’m more bullish on the idea of Composable Infrastructure than Enrico. But he also makes a lot of great points. HPE may see a way forward, but there’s a lot of reasons to be skeptical.


About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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