Global CIO: IBM & Oracle Expose Hewlett-Packard's Achilles' Heel

While HP's systems strategy is on hold, Oracle and IBM are leading customers into the new age of highly integrated and optimized systems.
Noting that the "IBM on i" line has had a joint-development agreement with SAP for more than a decade, IBM pointed to a jointly funded development team staffed by the two companies and based at SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. Those efforts at SAP are complemented by a separate team based at IBM's Rochester, N.Y., facility that "drives optimization changes" within the product line.

Of course, nothing lasts forever (except the Pittsburgh Pirates' string of consecutive losing seasons—now at 18 and counting), and with both IBM and SAP making intense commitments to the strategically vital areas of business intelligence and predictive analytics, it is possible that a year or two down the road, IBM and SAP might find themselves competing so aggressively for that high ground that each might decide to back off a bit from their currently close partnership.

But that type of inexact fortune-telling only amplifies the need for HP to take a stronger position in this dynamic new market—because while SAP clearly holds HP in high regard, SAP also understands it needs to play the hardware field beyond HP.

At the Sapphire event three months ago, SAP announced the high performance analytic appliance and said that while HP would be one of its hardware partners, the deal would not be exclusive.

"Building on SAP and HP's strategic alliance and joint go-to-market initiative for the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator software and SAP BusinessObjects software, SAP has selected HP as one of the first strategic alliance partners to provide converged infrastructure technology for the new high-performance analytic appliance," said SAP in a press release.

In the following paragraph, HP executive VP Tom Hogan offered a plain-vanilla comment that clearly pointed out the value to customers but certainly offered no hint about any sort of special relationship between HP and SAP: "Customers need to be able to turn data into information, information into insight and insight into advantage," Hogan said in the release. "The combination of SAP Business Analytic Engine with HP's server portfolio helps customers harness the power of information to create business insight and drive better decision making for their organization."

Clearly, HP's got some other priorities to deal with these days—primarily finding a new CEO—but in a business where reputations blow hot and cold very quickly, the market for highly integrated and optimized systems is not one HP should basically ignore for long.

After all, IBM already offers more than a dozen of what it calls "workload-optimized systems," and while none of those might be scheduled to generate $1 billion in revenue this year, IBM shows every sign of being fully committed to delivering a wide range of choices and possibilities to its customers.

And a month from now at the massive Oracle Open World show, Larry Ellison will surely unveil at least one if not more Exadata machines, extending the franchise beyond the database world and possibly into such areas as BI and other specialized categories to help Oracle in its quest to lead the world in offering ultra-high-end business systems (see Global CIO: Larry Ellison And The New Oracle Rock The Tech World).

As an old basketball coach of mine used to say, "Boys, we've got all the time in the world—as long as we don't waste a second." That sounds like just the right timetable for HP in the rapidly emerging marketplace for highly integrated and optimized machines.


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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

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