Big Data. Big Decisions
InformationWeek
Special Coverage Series

Commentary

Doug Henschen

Doug Henschen

Executive Editor, InformationWeek
See more from this author Connect directly with Doug: Bio | Contact

IW500: HP Chairman Defends Strategy Shifts

Ray Lane takes shots at Oracle, Microsoft, and Android while clarifying the company's mobile and information management plans.

InformationWeek Now--What's Hot Right Now
Hewlett-Packard is intent on becoming a strictly enterprise-focused IT vendor with particular depth in managing unstructured data--the 85% of information that isn't managed within the columns and rows of databases.

That much should have been clear in August when HP announced it would attempt to spin out its PC business and acquire enterprise software vendor Autonomy. Appearing at this week's InformationWeek 500 Conference in Dana Point, Calif., HP Chairman Ray Lane and Chief Technology Strategy Officer Shane Robison both acknowledged that the company had done such a poor job of communicating those moves and that many customers were left confused.

More Insights

Webcasts

More >>

White Papers

More >>

Reports

More >>

Lane and Robison did their best to reassure the more than 400 CIOs and other top IT executives in attendance at the event that HP remains a reliable, predictable enterprise partner that is investing heavily in its server, storage, and networking businesses. At the same time, Lane made it clear that the software transition is necessary.

"Predictability is important, but technology companies that just keep doing what they are doing die," Lane said. "You have to keep changing, and that's uniquely important in the technology business."

Putting HP's transition into a competitive context, Lane said it will be easier for HP to move more deeply into information management software--the motive behind the still-to-be-completed Autonomy acquisition--than it will be for Oracle to succeed in hardware in the wake of its acquisition of Sun. That transition "is much more dangerous," he said, because "they acquired a flagging server company and they're trying to use the clout of their database to tell customers what to do."

In another comparison, Lane said Microsoft has not changed fast enough because it has relied for too long on the clout of its Windows and Office platforms.

Explaining HP's apparent about-face on the mobile market, Lane was candid in saying that HP's TouchPad tablet was "a generation behind" the iPad. He added that "the Koreans are going to be really good at the hardware, and Apple is more worried about them than they are us."

By separating the webOS mobile operating system from the hardware business, Lane said HP will be able to take advantage of what he described as "the best platform in the world" for commercial application development. "You cannot develop serious, portable applications on Android," Lane said, noting that the Web app development platform behind webOS can port applications to Andoid, Apple iOS, or Windows as well as webOS.

How can HP take advantage of webOS if it's not used on any smartphones or tablets? Robison said HP is in discussion with partners and that it intends to give webOS and its Web app development environment a life of its own as a platform for the industry. "It provides a common platform on which you can develop applications and deploy them on any operating system of choice," he said.

Of course the new news that may have changed the prospects for webOS is Google's recent acquisition of Motorola. Reading between the lines of what Lane and Robison had to say, it's easy to guess that HP is looking to license the mobile operating platform to the likes of Samsung, HTC, and possibly others.

Lane's clear and candid remarks were reassuring to many HP customers at the event, but it was hard to overcome the fact that HPs plans have many dependencies. Can HP find a way to spin out its $40 billion consumer PC business? Do mobile hardware vendors really need another operating-system option (other than Android and Windows) to compete against Apple? Will the Autonomy acquisition go through, and will it make HP that much more compelling and profitable as an information management software provider? All of these questions have yet to be answered.

At one point, Lane inadvertently made a better case for Salesforce.com than he could muster for an HP in transition when he brought up Kenandy, a software-as-a-service startup that's being funded by the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, where Lane is managing partner. Kenandy has built its software on Salesforce.com's Force.com development platform.

"Today, speed and the ability to make use of information is quickly, so CIOs have to get things in place quickly," Lane said. "If you look at Saleforce.com as just a CRM system, maybe it doesn't delivery everything you need in the enterprise, but it's fast."

Lane's case in point was Kenandy's first customer, which was able to get 75 users up and running "within two weeks on a full-blown, production system," Lane said.

HP, too, has a cloud strategy and is talking about agility, but I'm guessing Lane would be hard pressed to come up with an equally compelling example of such a rapid, enterprise-level deployment enabled by HP.

Once again, we'll have to wait to see if HP can transform itself.

Attend Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara, Nov. 14-17, 2011, and learn how to drive business value with collaboration, with an emphasis on how real customers are using social software to enable more productive workforces and to be more responsive and engaged with customers and business partners. Register today and save 30% off conference passes, or get a free expo pass with priority code CPHCES02. Find out more and register.



Doug Henschen

About The Author

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in ...Continued
Executive Editor, InformationWeek
See more from this author Connect directly with Doug: Bio | Contact

Related Reading




Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

BYTE encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, BYTE moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing/SPAM. BYTE further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.

Follow InformationWeek

By The Numbers

What Are Your Primary Concerns About Using Big Data Software?

Base: 417 respondents at organizations using or planning to deploy data analytics, BI or statistical analysis software
Data: InformationWeek 2013 Analytics, Business Intelligence and Information Management Survey of 541 business technology professionals, October 2012

What Do You Think?

What's your attitude about SQL analysis on top of Hadoop?
We want fast, standard SQL analysis capabilities on Hadoop ASAP
Hadoop is for unstructured data; SQL is for relational databases
We'll give SQL on Hadoop a try, but relational DBs will remain the mainstay
Given strong SQL support on Hadoop, we'd nix the data warehouse
We're not interested in Hadoop
No opinion



Related Content

From Our Sponsor

How to Use Hadoop as a Piece of the Big Data Puzzle

How to Use Hadoop as a Piece of the Big Data Puzzle

For all its agility in handling big data, Hadoop by itself is not a big data strategy. In this paper, you’ll read about how SAS® brings high-performance analytics to the Hadoop framework -- making it easier to gain insights, discover trends and solve the most complicated business problems.

Big Data in Big Companies

Big Data in Big Companies

This paper investigates how 20 large firms benefit from big data projects. The authors interview key executives to understand how their companies have deployed analytics to generate value from their big data assets. The report finds that transforming organizations through analytics requires new skills, leadership, organizational structures, technologies and architectures.

2013 Big Data Survey Research Brief

2013 Big Data Survey Research Brief

In this report, over 300 business and IT leaders provided unique insight into big data trends and the positioning of their current data management practices to meet these challenges. When asked what they wanted from data-focused solutions, the respondents’ No.1 answer was data visualization. Find out why.

Five Big Data Challenges and How to Overcome Them with Visual Analytics

Five Big Data Challenges and How to Overcome Them with Visual Analytics

Business leaders often need a visual snapshot of data to quickly grasp and use it. This paper identifies five challenges in presenting data and how visual analytics can resolve them. Solutions are suggested to overcome the challenges of: speed, data clarity, data quality, displaying meaningful results, and dealing with outliers.

Game-Changing Analytics: How IT Executives Can Use Analytics to Create Innovation and Business Success

Game-Changing Analytics: How IT Executives Can Use Analytics to Create Innovation and Business Success

Today's competitive advantage requires a deeper understanding of your business, your market and your customers. As an IT executive, you can drive that knowledge transformation. In this white paper, learn how to make decisions as a strategic business leader and three steps to begin an analytics initiative within your enterprise.

Informationweek Reports

Research: The Big Data Management Challenge

Research: The Big Data Management Challenge

The challenge of big data is real, but most organizations don't differentiate 'big data' from traditional data, and nearly 90% of respondents to our survey use conventional databases as the primary means of handling data. We'll help you understand what constitutes big data (it's not just size) and the numerous management challenges it poses.