Concerns arise in wake of HP vote

Enterprise IT executives and users now face the prospect of waiting to discover the future of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s and Compaq Computer Corp.’s product lines after HP CEO Carly Fiorina this week declared victory in the crucial shareholder vote to approve HP’s bid to acquire Compaq.

Although the final vote count is not expected for weeks, Compaq’s own shareholders approved the merger this week.

Some IT executives have expressed concern that the respective Unix platforms, HP-UX and Compaq’s Tru64, will suddenly disappear. “We have a scattered collection of both [HP and Compaq] servers, so we are concerned about which way they are going to lead us there,” said John Wagner, vice-president of engineering at a public utility in Reno, Nev.

Indeed, companies using both HP and Compaq products should be doubly concerned about the repercussions of the merger. “Something’s going to change with the merger. Will they keep the Compaq products as is? Will they keep the HP products as is? That doesn’t seem too cost-effective,” said Dan Shuert, director of IT at Oklahoma Publishing in Oklahoma City.

Most analysts agree that Compaq’s PC line and ProLiant server lines will be the ones to emerge. Compaq’s iPaq handheld is the likely candidate in that category, analysts said, and HP printers undoubtedly will make up the merged company’s printer line.

One instance where the two companies offer complementary technologies is HP’s OpenView systems management software, which could now be used on Compaq servers, said Crawford DelPrete, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass.

According to John Shaeffer, CEO of VAR Sysix in Chicago, the merger will create a buyers’ market. “The customer base is going to get a lot of love from IBM and Sun as well as HP. HP wants to keep the installed base, and IBM [and] Sun will sell on the fear factor.”