HP enterprise exec discusses postmerger strategy

As executive vice president of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Enterprise Systems Group, Peter Blackmore is responsible for an US$11.4 billion business. Blackmore spoke with Computerworld last week about how HP has fared since its merger with Compaq Computer Corp. last year.

Why is HP so bullish on Itanium when the rest of the industry seems to be taking more of a wait-and-see attitude?

Both premerger companies came to the same decision. Both had RISC architecture, and prior to the merger, both had decided to adopt Itanium. The logic was the same in both cases in that we wish to be in the computer business, not the chip business. We saw the advantage of using industry-standard chip sets and industry-standard building blocks with more of our R&D, then going into the value-add beyond that. The clustering, the partitioning, the software and the management tool sets are what offer genuine differentiation.

Come September or October, when we launch a complete Itanium product, there will be a paradigm shift. It will be a disruptive technology.

At a time when other companies are ramping up their middleware investments, why has HP exited the middleware business?

Where we are investing the money is on management software and virtualization. Middleware is only part of that. What we’ve decided to do is have a very strong management software architecture. So we have OpenView as the core of the management software.

Above that, we have leadership concepts such as Utility Data Center, which is absolutely world class and is 18 months ahead of IBM and way ahead of anything Sun has to offer.

It enables virtualization and dynamic reconfiguration of all the systems in a data center or across multiple data centers. It is a very sophisticated approach to managing the infrastructure.

What role do you see Linux playing in the enterprise?

We see Linux as being absolutely strategic. We see growth in all of the three standards — Windows, Linux and HP-UX, [which is] a standard by default because it has got 32 percent of the Unix market.

We actually have a $2 billion Linux business. We have the highest market share of any of the vendors in Linux on server platforms. It is 30 percent.

We have a big service practice around Linux: Around 5,000 of our services people are trained on supporting Linux.

Where does OpenVMS fit in the overall scheme of things at HP these days?

It is already well on its way to being ported to IA-64. We will continue to support it on IA-64. It is a very special class of operating system. We are not planning to do anything else other than to continue supporting this environment, as well as the 450,000 users around the world that are on this.

So we are going to maintain it and make it run very well on Itanium. The same [is true] with the Non-Stop environment. It currently runs on the MIPS chip. It will be migrated to IA-64 as well.