HP looks to right its IT ship

HP, heal thyself.

That’s the mission Hewlett Packard’s president, CEO and chairman Mark Hurd says he has challenged his internal IT team with.

Righting a bloated and inefficient IT infrastructure, he said, will not only improve HP’s own efficiency; it will show customers that, using HP technology, they can do the same.

At its Technology Forum conference here Monday, HP made a number of announcements around security, green storage and IT project delivery.

In his keynote, Hurd said HP intends to exemplify its own message, but admitted the vendor has serious challenges ahead.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based IT giant has made several acquisitions in recent years and its offerings span a wide swath of the tech marketplace. Hurd described HP’s own internal IT infrastructure as “disparate at best.”

Like many other companies, Hurd said, HP was spending 80 per cent of its IT budget maintaining the existing infrastructure and was fighting a losing battle.

IT costs, he said, were even increasing faster than company revenues.

Recognizing an unsustainable situation, Hurd has set his CIO an ambitious objective: reduce IT costs “a whole bunch”, while lowering compliance risk, and getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

A tall order?

Well Hurd has added yet another condition: it all has to be down with HP technology.

It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be cheap, the HP chief acknolweged.

The company plans to quadruple its capital spend over three years, to build the IT infrastructure required to support the adaptable environment envisioned.

“Don’t think this is easy or free,” said Hurd. “But the fact we’ll invest capital is the key to getting it done.”

In addition to HP’s own ongoing internal IT makeover, Hurd also addressed the consumerization trend, whose increasing influence he sees on all facets of enterprise IT.

Pointing to HP’s straddling both the consumer and enterprise markets as a competitive advantage, Hurd said HP intends to leverage everything in can from the consumer side and make use of industry-standard components to drive-down prices on enterprise products such as servers and blades.

“There is no company on Planet Earth or in the technology sector better equipped to leverage that trend,” said Hurd. “Trust us, we don’t want to protect the past. We want to innovate the future.”

Lastly, addressing HP’s channel partner community, Hurd admitted this company has a lot of work to do with the channel and acknowledged that, in the past, the vendor has been too focused on developing technology and not enough on bringing that technology to market.

Citing the addition of 1,000 people to HP’s global enterprise sales team over the past year, Hurd said HP is investing to improve its coverage. The company has some 140,000 partners and Hurd said the goal is not to have 141,000, but to work more closely with the existing channel and help it help HP penetrate the mid-market.

“The biggest complaint I ever get is how difficult it is to do business with HP. I think people like our technology and our people, but we have to take our complexity and make it an advantage for you. We shouldn’t push our complexity on you,” said Hurd.

And the conceded: “We’re not there yet. We’ve got a lot of work to do at all levels.”

HP used the conference to unveil a host of new security-related offerings under a new moniker, HP Secure Advantage. Compliance and risk management are at the core of a number of the new offerings which include HP Compliance Warehouse, an appliance that will collect and analyze log data and automate reporting for compliance purposes.

As well, 256-bit encryption was announced for HP’s StorageWorks LTO-4 Ultrium 1840 tape drives and anti-phishing toolbar was also released, featuring two-factor authentication and site validation that VARs can integrate into their own offerings.

Green IT and power efficiency was also top of mind, and was the focus of a range of storage-related initiatives.

HP boasts its green storage technology, which is part of its new StorageWorks EVA4100, 6100 and 8100 midrange disk arrays as well as the several new tape drives, will cut storage array power and cooling costs in data centres by nearly 50 per cent.

The other area of focus on Monday was software, with a series of announcements related to HP’s Quality Center and LoadRunner software and new quality management services.

Quality Center will now see business requirements and quality management capabilities integrated in real time for “agile testing” of new software and updates, and a Quality Management ecosystem will provide partners the opportunity to develop and market test accelerators for Quality Center and LoadRunner software.

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