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And a major hurdle is in shying away from its traditional hardware-focused business and taking a cloud computing mindset to market.
"It's going to be a challenge...the reality is, in their business today there's a lot to lose," he said.
Hoff said that HP's throwing its hat into the cloud ring brings up the old build it versus buy it conundrum, two which HP's traditional answer was always build it. Since HP had the server business and the hardware chops, it was a strong proponent of building out the data center on site to reap the top dollar hardware margins. But the entrance of Amazon, Google and other cloud players turned the build it model on its ear and HP is now playing catch-up.
And HP's jump into public cloud computing raises the question of whether it will cannibalize its own server business. HP's hardware will struggle to compete against the new multi-tenancy, cost and scale that's the cloud introduces, and the slimmer margins could require adjustment.
"It's going to be hard for some of these established companies to do this," Model Metrics' Barnes said, adding that he foresees more cloud market consolidation ahead for larger players like HP to beef up their cloud offerings.
HP faces difficulty in keeping up with companies that have already capitalized on cloud, like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, who have become known for swift innovation and rapid-fire product releases. While HP's product roadmaps typically look three years to five years out and "cloud thinking doesn't have a timeline like that," Hoff said. Roadmaps in the cloud realm are much, much shorter, oftentimes just weeks or months. Hoff questioned whether HP will have the nimbleness and agility to keep that pace or if it will paint itself into a corner.
"Largely, there's a very essential part of HP that has to embrace this in a very direct way," he said. "HP will be challenged to move that fast."
Barnes said HP also faces an increasing competitive field of cloud players, lead by Amazon Web Services, which established the market for cloud computing.
"I wish them the best of luck, but it's going to be hard for anyone to beat Amazon with its massive capacity and scale," he said.
But Nichols said if HP and Apotheker play their cards right, it could be the cloud computing bump the company needs to catch up to the cloud pack and create a real place for itself in a market that's growing exponentially.
"I hope that we'll look back in a few years and compare this moment to Microsoft saying it's 'all in' with cloud computing," Appirio's Nichols said, referring back to when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed Microsoft's intention to storm the cloud with a full-court press. "This is HP's 'all in' moment."