Hewlett-Packard Dives Into BI, Info Management

HP on Wednesday said it has formed a Business Information Optimization unit in its HP Software organization. The new unit consists of business intelligence and information management groups and will include software from across the company.

The unit will be home to HP's Neoview data warehouse software, which shipped in October. HP's recent acquisition of Knightsbridge Solutions Holdings, which brought some 900 consultants specializing in BI and data warehousing, also will bolster the BI/information management effort, the company said. Ben Barnes, a former IBM executive who most recently was CEO of ActivIdentity, will head the new group.

With the move, HP squares off more directly against IBM, which has its own huge information management group, and Teradata, industry analysts said. HP CEO Mark Hurd came to the Palo Alto, Calif., company from NCR, which plans to spin off Teradata.

Some solution providers said with this new unit, HP is opening up an offensive front against its channel partners. "If you look at their Web site, at all the services they plan, in CRM, in enterprise content management, in ERP, I see this as biting the hand that feeds them," said George Brown, CEO of Database Solutions, a Cherry Hill, N.J. database and IT specialist.

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Dana Gardner, an analyst at research firm Inter-Arbor Solutions, called the new BI unit a "substantive move" for HP. "It recognizes that the database business itself may not be so important, but the intelligence you can extract from data is very important," he said.

Gardner does not see this as necessarily putting HP into contention with its own BI and integration partners: "There's enough room here for many players."

The BI/information management play may set the stage for more merger-and-acquisition activity by HP, according to Judith Hurwitz, an analyst at Hurwitz and Associates. "I predict a lot of acquisitions," she said. "They'll be looking at companies that don't do databases per se but that make databases work better and focus on data integration management."

HP's new group won't pose a competitive threat to Oracle, an HP partner, Hurwitz said. "This will be a lot bigger than data warehousing," she said.

In related news, Microsoft and Teradata unveiled plans to make Microsoft's BI software work well with Teradata's data warehousing technology. The pact, announced at the National Retail Federation conference in New York, covers Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services due out late this quarter, as well as SQL Server 2005 reporting and integration, Excel 2007 and Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.

Steven Burke contributed to this report.

This story was updated Wednesday night with partner comments.