HP’s software moves

HP, the giant technology company with revenues of $130B is moving aggressively into software based on its recent actions. First it acquired Vertica, a column-based database company. Then the new CEO announced the wider adoption of WebOS in all its PC’s, Tablets, and mobile devices. He also outlined a cloud strategy for HP.

Let us look at a bit of history. HP has not really focused on a comprehensive software strategy. It’s product OpenView is a good one in the systems management arena, competing with IBM’s Tivoli and CA’s Unicenter products. Then it acquired OpsWare and Mercury Interactive, both in data center infrastructure management space. It has no products in the DBMS, or middleware space nor in the EDW (Enterprise Data Warehouse) or BI space. It’s brave attempt to create a Teradata-killer called Neoview (based on the ancient Tandem Non-stop SQL technology) did not go anywhere. The acquisition of Vertica pretty well put an end to Neoview. In the mean time, the “stack” war has started in full swing – IBM, Oracle, Microsoft being the key players. SAP is also trying to be a wider player with its acquisition of Sybase and Business Objects.

Add to this, the emergence of the Data Warehouse appliance for specialized data-intensive workloads for analytics. IBM acquired Netezza and EMC acquired Greenplum. Oracle is combining the Oracle DBMS with Sun Server to come up with the Exadata appliance. In that context, HP’s acquisition of Vertica to become a part of an appliance is quite predictable.

HP’s partnership with Oracle is coming to an end, now that Oracle announced an end to supporting Intel’s Itanium chip (used in HP Servers). Now HP has two strong partners – Microsoft and SAP. The Microsoft partnership is at threat now with the WebOS announcement. The SAP partnership is also impacted by the Vertica solution, which competes with Sybase IQ product. But it was HP few years ago who coined the phrase “co-opetition” (competing and co-operating at the same time).

HP does not have a clear road map yet in software. What appears so far is a fragmented approach of bits and pieces. But I am sure there is a grand plan being worked out and let us hope this time around, HP will come up with a comprehensive set of software products to fight IBM and Oracle.

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2 responses to “HP’s software moves

  1. You’re wrong. HP does have a software strategy, and is following it up. This strategy is to position itself in three areas: IT Management (in the brodest sense of the term), Analytics and Security. The old OpenView brand was dropped years ago, and there hasn’t been just one OpenView product since the late 80’s, it has been a family of products.

    HP’s sofware strategy (i.e. as marketed by HP Software and Solutions) today can summed up in the abbreviation BOSSA. Products to Build, Operate, Store, Secure and Analyze. The Vertica acquisition is in the last of these five groups. BOSSA is not a family name, and does not include all the software that HP makes, but it covers the software sold by HP as “stand-alone” software products. Other products (such as WebOS) are more closely related to HP’s hardware products (for WebOS currently smartphones and tablets, with PCs, printers and other devices as time goes on).

  2. Thanks Rolf for your comments. The “stack” contains hardware, operating system, middle tier stuff such as DBMS, Transaction management, security management, event management, message queue, development platform, integration software, etc. Then there is the application software that includes business analytics. IBM provides a full stack minus business applications, its DB2 and WebSphere are huge revenue producers. Oracle and Microsoft are providing the entire stack. In that context, HP’s stack is incomplete. The BOSSA is just a way to describe what they have or intend to have.
    The outside perception of “HP Software is an oxymoron” still remains. I hope that will change with the new leadership’s focus.

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