CIOs are overwhelmingly focused on innovation. This was a key insight of Foundry’s 2022 State of the CIO report, which found that 89 per cent of CIOs across the APAC region saw their roles as being more digital and innovation-focused.
This means that they need to look at technology differently, which, for IT organisations and partners is an opportunity. According to Andrew Underwood, APJ Chief Technology Officer at Dell Technologies, CIOs are highly receptive to high performance computing (HPC) now, specifically because it meets their innovation agenda.
“Innovators are turning to high performance computing, in order to push the boundaries of what they can do with innovation,” Underwood said, in an exclusive interview with Foundry. “They’re looking to you as a partner to start that conversation with them, by asking about what type of products or services they're developing, and how they might use techniques like simulation modelling or data analysis in order to achieve them.”
The challenge that partners traditionally have is in being able to have the right conversation with their customer in the first place. CIOs are not looking for technology for the sake of technology. Rather, they’re looking for business outcomes, and the partner needs to be able to have the conversation with their customer on that level.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to have this conversation – even with a rocket science customer,” Underwood said. “You need to be listening to the intended use cases of your customer’s business, which might sound obvious, but it’s not to many partners out there.”
What makes this conversation more challenging, Underwood added, is the messaging from the vendors themselves. High-performance computing is often talked of in terms of speeds and feeds, and this has led to the common perception that the market is only really available to universities and government agencies.
Dell’s strong growth in HPC – according to Hyperion research Dell Technologies HPC sales drove $US27.3 billion in revenue worldwide – was a consequence of its ability to sell to a far broader range of verticals.
“Dell HPS systems are available in a wide range of price points, ranging from over $500 million for the fastest systems in the world, to near $20,000 for systems targeted at small research groups or even single users,” the report notes.
“Only the largest, most dedicated vendors are capable of fully addressing a global market this large and diverse.”
Being a vendor that can assist partners in having the strategic and results-focused discussion around HPC has allowed Dell Technologies to work with its channel to break down those perceptions and broaden the conversation around the technology and its strategic outcomes.
“Over the past 20 plus years, Dell Technologies has amassed thousands of successful case studies from adoption of HPC in every industry, every market and every vertical,” Underwood said. “So, our most successful partners can use these case studies to guide their own customers through the journey that other customers have gone through in order to leverage enterprise grade HPC to accelerate their product development or their service delivery.”
Delivering an ROI that will make CIOs pay attention
The other clear opportunity for partners is in articulating the strong return on investment that HPC offers. CIO budgets remain stable or increasing overall, however, with the expectation of innovation comes the expectation that the CIO is using this budget to deliver strong returns, and, according to Underwood, HPC is one of the best avenues for this conversation.
“There is an average of $44 of profit for every dollar invested in high performance computing, to put that into context, for an HPC system purchased at $100,000 by a private corporation, the analysis estimates that the profit will be around $4.4 million,” Underwood said.
As the Hyperion report notes, “Dell Technologies’ strategy and market momentum position the company well to help drive the continued growth of this worldwide market as HPC use expands.” What was once seen as a technology for governments and the highest end of scientific work now has applications across all verticals. For the partner to effectively sell this to the CIO, they simply need to be able to articulate the strategic benefits that HPC will bring to their customer’s segment.