Weekly Update

HP charts a course for the enterprise CIO from the inside out

Last week, HP held its Discover Conference in Barcelona, Spain. This was the company’s first conference since announcing its split into two major technology companies. Now, HP Enterprise, the half focused on enterprise-class solutions, will need to demonstrate a strong leadership position to remain relevant in the dynamic and ever-changing enterprise space. This is no short order for such a large incumbent as HP. The split, however, brings into focus a renewed vigor to go after the enterprise CIO.

Looking inside to look outside

During the past two years, HP assembled a powerhouse of CIO talent. That talent is not an advisory council, but rather executive leadership within the HP machine. In August 2012, the company went outside to hire Ramon Baez as its Global CIO. Previously, Baez was Vice President and CIO at Kimberly Clark. Then, in July 2014, HP made two other significant CIO hires: Former Clorox SVP and CIO Ralph Loura joined HP as CIO of HP’s Enterprise Group. At the same time, HP hired Paul Chapman as CIO of HP Software. Chapman was formerly VP of Global Infrastructure and Cloud Operations at VMware. All three are highly respected among both their CIO peers and fellow executive colleagues. And one only needs to spend a few minutes with each to see how their thinking aligns with HP’s vision of “the new style of IT.”

In their former roles, all three individuals accomplished many of the very activities that HP is helping its customers with today. For HP as a provider of products, solutions and services, it only needs to look internally to gain insight on which direction to take. Think of it as having the inside track on the transformational CIO.

On day one of the conference, I had the opportunity to join Paul Chapman and Paul Muller, VP of Strategic Marketing for HP Software, to discuss The Evolving CIO.

Emphasis on cloud and big data

At Discover Barcelona, HP’s Helion cloud solutions and Haven data solutions were front-and-center at the front of each exhibit hall.

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HP’s Helion cloud division continued its beat toward an OpenStack-based ecosystem. The group, soon to be lead by former Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos, is placing a strong showing behind the OpenStack platform with solutions that address the enterprise challenges with both private and public cloud solutions.

Even so, there is still quite a bit of work to be done by both HP and its customers. Enterprises are still, in large part, working out how best to leverage cloud-based solutions. In addition, OpenStack has its own set of challenges to become a viable product for the masses. HP’s intent is to bridge the gap between what the enterprise needs and the current state of the technology. Mickos’ new position heading up the Helion division is already starting to turn a battleship in great need towards a significant course correction.

On the big data front, HP made a splash in June 2013 with its HAVEn set of core technologies. The idea was to bring out the best of both worlds via its acquisitions of Vertica and Autonomy. Since the announcement, the products were perceived to be a grouping of parts rather than a cohesive solution. At Discover Barcelona, HP unveiled its updated branding to Haven, which signifies the integration of the products into a more comprehensive solution.

While the marketing is coming together, it is unclear that customers are resonating with the broader appeal of Haven beyond just that of each component. Haven is, however, moving to a Helion application offered in the cloud or on-premises, which could appeal more broadly to enterprise CIOs.

Infrastructure incredibly important

At the conference, HP made it clear that infrastructure remains incredibly important. And from the size of the crowds around the company’s Converged Systems areas, it would seem customers are resonating with the same view. The hardware areas were the most crowded sections of the exhibit floor.

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Packed within the Converged Systems group is HP’s OneView management platform. Today, OneView presents a management platform for the broader infrastructure platform. However, the real value will come from the ecosystem HP is building around the platform.

A comprehensive management platform is one area that will become increasingly more important for the CIO facing a potpourri of different vendors, providers, and solutions.

Devil in the details

Ultimately for HP, the devil is in the details. For the enterprise CIO, however, HP presents some interesting potential in its portfolio. The company does have some formidable challenges ahead as it splits in two in order to bring focus to the enterprise of tomorrow. Neither is easy, but will be interesting to see how HP fares moving forward.