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Bob Evans
Bob Evans

Global CIO: Gunning For IBM & Oracle, HP Plans Optimized-Systems Blitz

HP's pairing with Microsoft and SAP on huge rollout of machines aimed at BI, OLTP, Exchange, and more. Can it catch IBM and billion-dollar Exadata?

Last month I suggested Oracle and IBM were exposing Hewlett-Packard's Achilles' heel by racing ahead of the world's largest IT company with aggressive introductions of purpose-built machines that are becoming CIO favorites by delivering dazzling levels of performance and installation time.

My point was that while HP had earlier this year announced a couple of ambitious plans with Microsoft and SAP to jointly develop some of these new-age appliances, Oracle and IBM are already out in the market and delivering powerful solutions to cash-strapped CIOs while HP has been delivering mostly promises.

They're attractive promises, to be sure, and with great partners, but we all know that today's CIOs and their CEO bosses are under enormous pressure to begin immediately transforming their organizations, devoting more IT dollars toward revenue growth and away from internal operations, and increasing the speed with which they can engage with customers, create new products, and develop new revenue streams.

And many CIOs believe optimized systems can play a significant role in achieving some or all of those objectives.

So it wasn't a big surprise when HP immediately objected to my Achilles' heel metaphor, and after some back-and-forth jawing, I had a chance to speak this week with the HP executive responsible for forging the relationships with software companies whose applications and tools these highly integrated machines will optimize.

Throughout our conversation, the affable Paul Miller, VP of Solutions & Strategic Alliances for Servers, Storage, and Networking, insisted that HP's "not really behind anybody" and that it's "in the game" and will soon be "even more in the game." (I take his point, but I beg to differ—the facts simply tell a different story.)

Miller said HP's been quietly testing some of its nascent purpose-built systems with key customers and is "already building a pipeline and footprint in the market—we're not waiting to let competitors get a lap on us. We are out there competing with IBM as well as Exadata."

But for HP, the best by far is yet to come, Miller promises, as HP will soon move beyond these limited stealth engagements and introduce a huge family of optimized systems spanning "the mid-market to mission-critical applications for the world's largest enterprises."

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Asked when this product blitz will come, Miller chuckled, fidgeted a bit, and said, "All I can say right now is that it will be soon. The very near future." (My guess: mid-October. I base that partly on Miller's comment but also on the simple reality that, in spite of all Miller's good-hearted protestations to the contrary, HP's limited on-the-market products can't stand up to the wide array offered by IBM, Teradata, Netezza and others, or to the powerful performance and deep market demand for Oracle's Exadata.

When that day does come, Miller said, HP will begin offering highly optimized and integrated systems in the following areas:

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