People to Watch 2016

Bill Mannel
Vice President & General Manager, High Performance Computing, Big Data, & Internet of Things
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE)

Bill Mannel joined HP in 2014 and is a seasoned veteran of the servers and high performance computing industry. He joins us from Silicon Graphics International Corp. (SGI), where he was the VP and GM for Compute and Storage Products. He brings with him significant P&L leadership, product marketing and HPC market experience. At SGI, Bill architected the move from proprietary systems into open systems using x86 and Linux and after the merger with Rackable Systems, led product marketing for the combined product families for the service provider market including the biggest brand names in public cloud services. Prior to SGI, Bill worked in the U.S. Government at NASA and the U.S. Air Force, as a lead structural engineer on several leading-edge aircraft and missile programs.

Bill holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. He also holds a Master’s of Business Administration from California State University, San Jose, California.

HPCwire: Hello Bill. Congratulations on being selected as an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2016! This has been a pivotal year for HP, most notably the split into HP Enterprise and HP. In the context of HP/HPE’s realignment there’s been a great deal of excitement around you coming on board to drive the HPC and Big Data businesses, which you successfully combined into a single HPE business unit. What can we look forward to from HPE in 2016 with regard to its efforts in HPC?

Bill Mannel: In 2016, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s HPC, Big Data, and IoT business unit will emphasize the growing importance of solutions to solve particular market problem. Last year, we launched the HPC Alliance with Intel at ISC aimed at building differentiated solutions using HPE Apollo platforms and Intel’s Scalable System Framework. HPE and Intel have agreed to focus on four verticals, Oil & Gas, Financial Services, Life Sciences, and Federal, in which to build these purpose-built platforms. HPE and Intel’s first integrated solutions will launch in 2016. You will also see solutions for Deep Learning as well as an expanded focus on HPC Storage and more integration of Big Data capabilities from our partner ecosystem. These solutions will drive our product strategy as we aim to better meet customer’s specific requirements and will serve as a key differentiator for HPE in a rapidly commoditizing industry.

HPCwire: What trends in high performance computing do you see as particularly relevant as you look forward to the year ahead?

As HPC continues to grow in importance and accessibility eases, I see a number of trends as particularly relevant including solutions, HPC in the Enterprise, the convergence of HPC and Big Data, and HPC in the Cloud. In order to overcome the headwinds of industry commoditization, solutions will become a key differentiator wherein the ecosystem will be able to leverage their strengths and capabilities. Over the past several years we have seen HPC spread from Government and academic institutions to the enterprise space as ease of accessibility has increased and enterprise customers begin to recognize the value HPC has on their workloads. Customers will jump on the bandwagon as HPC proves itself more and more meaningful within the enterprise space. A common theme messaged at SC15 was the convergence of high performance computing and Big Data, and I expect to see this trend continue throughout 2016 and beyond. More and more, our sales people are seeing customers merge data analytics with their HPC workloads as the amount of data we generate every day increases. The amount of data generated coupled with the need for increased capacity, cost savings, and more leads to cloud computing remaining as a trend within HPC as end users experiment with the different deployment models including public, on premise, and private managed. However, I believe that cloud providers will be expected to provide enhanced security measures, cost savings, and improved performance results for an HPC Cloud to resonate with customers. We also see the OpenHPC ecosystem continuing to make strides in 2016.

HPCwire: Outside of the professional sphere, what can you tell us about yourself – personal life, family, background, hobbies, etc.?

Wife, two teenagers, (girl and boy), started career as an Air Force officer, lived all over the US, but mostly on either coasts, recently moved to Houston. I like basketball and military history.

I was trained in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. I chose Duke because I always liked basketball and was impressed with Duke’s run to the national championship in 1978 (they ended up losing to Kentucky that year). However, the concept of going to a school so steeped in scholars/athletes was exciting to me. This was the era of Michael Jordon, Gene Banks, James Worthy and they used to come over to the Duke Intramural building to play pick-up games of basketball with us as students. Interestingly enough, my first year at Duke was Coach K’s first year at Duke as well; watching his career grow from his early few first year struggles, through getting his first top recruiting class in 1982, through several ‘near national championships’ and then finally winning in ’91, ’92, ‘01, ‘10, and ‘15 has been inspirational to me and showed me focus, persistence and just plain ‘grit’ can help you succeed.

HPCwire: Final question: What can you share about yourself that you think your colleagues would be surprised to learn?

I was trained as a Mechanical Engineer, and did classic engineering work while in the Air Force (stress, vibration, flutter and acoustics on new aircraft and missile designs) but did my ‘jump’ into computers when a number of new MASSCOMP (yes, remember those?) computers were added to my structural engineering department. I was assigned as the part-time UNIX system administrator on those systems; as we added to the install base of UNIX computers, I started to train more UNIX system administrators to maintain them, and this led to my first career in the Tech industry: doing UNIX, real-time and parallel programming instruction for new customers of Silicon Graphics, Inc. servers and workstations.


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Bill Mannel
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