HP Forms New Software Unit For BI, Info Management

The company extends its consulting services but lets its partners customize the dashboards, analytics, and reports.
Hewlett-Packard on Wednesday launched a software unit focusing on information management and business intelligence, with the latter centered on the company's Neoview data-warehousing system that started shipping to select customers in October.

Each of the two groups within the new Business Information Optimization unit will have its own leader. Ben C. Barnes, former chief executive for identity management company ActivIdentity and content management company Intraspect Software, was named VP and general manager of the BI group. HP planned to name the head of the information management group in the coming weeks.

Product specifics and road maps weren't disclosed for either group, but Barnes said HP's BI strategy revolved around infrastructure technology that would be built on Neoview and announced no later than the spring.

HP didn't plan to build or acquire business intelligence tools, such as dashboards, analytics, and reports. Instead, that would be left up to partners, such as Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperion Solutions, and MicroStrategy. However, that could change. "Over time, we will re-evaluate whether to build additional technology or buy some technology, but certainly no decision has been made," Barnes said.

Barnes declined to discuss HP's plans for the information management group, other than to say that it would oversee all of HP's current information life cycle management software, which falls under the HP StorageWorks brand. In the BI group, however, consulting services would be as big a part of the strategy as providing data warehousing technology. HP last month acquired Knightsbridge Solutions Holdings, a services company that focuses on BI, data warehousing, and data integration.

Dan Everett, analyst for Ventana Research, said HP's focus on services isn't surprising, given that consulting can bring in three to five times the amount of money as software licenses. "It's really the services or consulting partners that tend to have more control over accounts than the BI software vendor," Everett said. "They have more influence in purchasing decisions."

Data warehousing software is an area where HP has fallen behind companies like IBM, Oracle, SAS Institute, Teradata, and Microsoft, which together hold about 85 % of the $5.2 billion market. "There's money that they've been leaving on the table," Everett said. Also, smaller players like Netezza and DATAllegro are offering all-in-one data warehouse appliances that are starting to cut into HP's hardware business.

While HP is the underdog, it does have a couple of advantages. Chief executive Mark Hurd and CIO Randy Mott are two of the most knowledgeable figures in the industry. Hurd ran NCR and its Teradata division before joining HP in 2005, and Mott built and managed data warehouse systems at Wal-Mart as CIO in the 1990s.