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By Steven Burke on June 21, 2017 on CRN.com

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Executive Vice President Antonio Neri – the principal architect of the company’s software defined hybrid IT buildout and driving force behind the software defined blockbuster acquisitions of Simplivity and Nimble – has been appointed president of the $28 billion company.

Neri’s appointment comes with HPE set to take the next step in its transformation into a smaller and faster moving company with a plan to take out as much as $200 to $300 million in additional costs in the second half of the year.

Neri, in fact, will oversee a new “HPE Next” growth and profitability initiative aimed at streamlining and optimizing the company. The closer look at the company’s financial architecture comes in the wake of the successful spin in merger of the $20 billion HPE Enterprise Services business to DXC, the impending spin in merger this summer of HPE software assets to Micro Focus, and the spin off of HP Inc. 18 months ago.

The appointment also comes just three months short of the six-year anniversary of the appointment of then Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman who led the breakup of the company and spin in mergers. The breakup of HPE has led to what Whitman has called a whopping $20 billion in value to shareholders and HPE itself based on the stock prices of the respective companies.

In announcing the appointment, HPE CEO Whitman called Neri a “veteran technology executive” who has led some of the most important business initiatives at HPE. “From overseeing the reinvention of our Technology Services business and the divestiture of our H3C business in China, to the integration of critical acquisitions like Aruba, SGI, SimpliVity and Nimble, Antonio has been invaluable to me as we have worked to establish the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise,” said Whitman. “His promotion reflects the importance of his contributions to the company as leader of the Enterprise Group, which represents more than 80 percent of the go-forward company’s revenue.”

Partners said that the appointment is a signal that Neri is in line to become the next CEO of HPE.

[highlight type=”one”]”This clearly lines up Neri to be the next in line to take the reins of HPE, there is no question about it,” said Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, No. 119 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500. “This looks like it is Whitman staying true to her statement that the next CEO of HPE would be born and bred in the HPE family.”[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]Neri – a 22 year HPE veteran – has worked in every major part of the legacy HP business from PCs to printers to services and now overseeing the mainstay enterprise business.[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]In an interview with CRN last month, Neri said he feels “liberated” by the new structure and sharper focus of HPE. “It just happens to be the business I run which makes it even more fun,” he said.[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]But with that sharp focus comes responsibility to execute, said Neri.”I always say no good deed goes unpunished,” he told CRN. “It is true. Before we were part of a bigger organization, there were a lot of moving parts. Now I am the company. There is a saying ‘With power comes responsibility.’ This is a very interesting time. Now we have a clear vision. We have a clear strategy. And we have an operating model that simplifies things for us to go execute.”[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]Future Tech’s Venero, for his part, said his advice to Neri is to stay focused on the channel – the “bread and butter” of HPE. “There is no question that Antonio has the technology vision as to what the future of HPE should look like,” said Venero. “Now it is going to come down to the execution of that vision.”[/highlight]