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Given Autonomy's relatively broad portfolio of software technologies, the acquisition would mark a significant step in meeting Apotheker's goal of increasing HP's software sales, which only accounted for about 3 percent of the company's $126 billion revenue for fiscal 2010 ended Oct. 31.
"Doubling it wouldn't be too bad," Apotheker said of HP's software sales, speaking in a conference call with reporters in November, shortly after he took the reins as HP CEO. "Tripling it would be even better!
"We need more software both as a category and also across the portfolio so that we can differentiate our individual products and services," Apotheker said. "We have an opportunity to better integrate our software and services strength across the company and we will be focusing on that."
Apotheker previously worked at German software giant SAP, where he served in a number of executive posts including CEO before stepping down in February 2010 after the company's poor financial performance in 2009.
Solution providers said HP's acquisition of Autonomy will be a great move for HP as it would help the vendor get a solid foot in the cloud services business.
Investing in Web-based solutions for the cloud is absolutely key for HP's future business, said Dave Butler, president of Enterprise Computing Solutions, a Mission Viejo, Calif.-based solution provider and HP partner.
"As I look at my own business, I'm always looking at what cloud-based business means to me," Butler said. "As an HP partner, I'm interested to see what the manufacturer is doing."
Butler said that, if he were an investor, he would definitely be picking a cloud-based services business over a PC business.
"HP, by spinning off its PC business and investing in Autonomy, is making a move like in poker," Butler said. "It's trading in a pair of Jacks for a potential full house. I think HP is right on the money. I like the idea of HP investing in a cloud-based services business."
HP's reported plan to acquire Autonomy is a big opportunity for the vendor to make itself more of a cloud services company, agreed Geoffrey Lilien, CEO of Lilien Systems, a Larkspur, Calif.-based solution provider and HP partner.
"It's definitely very 'Leo (Apotheker)' to go after something like this," Lilien said. "It's consistent with what IBM is doing to go to the cloud and big data. It's what Leo's been talking about--going to the cloud."
Acquiring Autonomy would mean that HP is "all-in" on both cloud and business analytics software, said Jillian Mirandi, an analyst with Technology Business Research, in a report.
"TBR maintains that communication and systems management lie at the core of future cloud adoption core strengths for the Autonomy portfolio," the report said. "CEO L�o Apotheker would prove his ongoing commitment to software as a main driver of HPs corporate future with an Autonomy acquisition, particularly as the speculated price point is in excess of SAPs 2010 $5.8 billion Sybase purchase and at par with Oracles 2004 $10.3 billion PeopleSoft acquisition."