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What's more, HP's Ali said the company is working on a groundbreaking new server development project, codenamed Moonshot. "This is not a research project," he said. "This is a development project in the server group. It will be a phenomenal machine. This is the kind of stuff we didn't invest in over the last 10 years. Now we are investing in this kind of technology."
HP also has the most complete software-defined networking (SDN) stack in the market including hardware, middleware and applications, said Ali. "There are a lot of people who have really good pieces but nobody who has as a complete software-defined networking stack," he said. "That is an area we are going to take a heavy run at."
Glen Jodoin, vice president of marketing and operations for GreenPages Technology Solutions, one of the top cloud computing solution providers in the country that attended the HP road show, said he was impressed by the message from HP's top strategist. He said Whitman's sharp focus on innovation and five-year commitment is a boost for partners and customers.
"When Meg came in, HP was in total disarray and in bad shape with regard to innovative technology," said Jodoin. "They built the company on innovative products and technology and then became weak. They hadn't kept pace with what customers were looking for. Now they are coming out with innovative, cool stuff. Meg is the right person for the job, and her committing to five years is comforting because it gives HP time to right the ship."
There is a big difference between HP and IBM, which faced a similar turnaround scenario in the late 80s and early 90s, said Ali.
"This is not like IBM in 1989 where the company had to borrow money to pay the employees," said Ali. "We have $5 billion in free cash flow. It [HP] is a profitable company. We have great products. We have great technology. But, it is going to take a little while for us to get back to where everybody wants us to be, where we want to be: as 'a' or 'the' leader in the technology industry. And I think Meg believes that, but she also believes it is going to take time. And she has committed this amount of time to make that happen."
Ali said he sees Whitman's five-year pledge as key for customer and partner confidence. "I think it says a lot," he said. "I think she believes that we are going to be a phenomenal company again."
HP will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year, and Whitman is focused on making sure that the company continues on its legacy of "delivering innovative products for the next 75 years," said Mike Parrottino, HP vice president and general manager of U.S. SMB Sales for the PPS.