HP and the 'De-emphasis' of Enterprise Hardware

Arthur Cole
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10 Tech Skills that Are Heading the Way of the Dinosaur

Another dominant hardware strategy bites the dust -- or rather, gets lost in the clouds.


As I've mentioned in several posts in recent weeks, it should be clear to everyone by now that hardware is no longer the driving force behind enterprise productivity that it once was. As organizations become more steeped in virtual and cloud technology, the actual boxes supporting data and applications become less important than your ability to migrate, manage and manipulate these resources. This isn't to say hardware is irrelevant -- just that it has been de-emphasized in the overall data architecture.

HP seems to have finally caught on to this reality. The company's much-touted grand strategy is heavy on cloud computing, mobile technology and the WebOS operating system that will hopefully tie it all together. Oh, yeah, and it will still make servers and storage and network components that may drive new levels of efficiency and interoperability from time to time, but it's not like any of that stuff is crucial for implementing the new vision.

To be fair, though, this isn't anything that the likes of IBM and Oracle haven't already implemented. All three companies are now firmly in the camp that software-driven virtual and cloud computing is where it's at, both in terms of innovation and overall profitability. This despite the quaint habit of some market researchers to continue counting hardware sales as if they truly mattered when it comes to influencing IT markets and technological development.

The problem, though, is that while IBM has built up a formidable stable of key software tools, not to mention Oracle having come from the software side altogether, HP has to play a little catch-up, according to InformationWeek's Doug Henschen. And that may be difficult with expected resistance to a new OS from Microsoft, not to mention key match-ups in specific application areas with the likes of Apple, EMC and Teradata.

And while many observers speculate that HP can make up for those deficiencies through targeted acquisitions, with everyone from Salesforce to Autodesk on the hit list, there is something to be said for home-grown innovation. But even here, HP seems to be trailing, according to Ovum's Carter Lusher. As he told ComputerWeekly, there has been no indication of an increase in research and development at HP, an area that was trimmed by nearly $700 million a year during the Mark Hurd era.

Still, the first step in any major corporate initiative is defining a strategy that is both viable and delivers a compelling vision to consumers. HP has taken this first step, so all that remains is the execution.

No matter what, though, you probably won't be hearing much about the need for new hardware to make it happen.

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