Partners Frustrated With HP's Lack Of Communication On Autonomy

As the one year anniversary of Hewlett-Packard's Autonomy acquisition nears, HP channel partners are champing at the bit to sell Autonomy products. They're especially interested in Intelligent Data Operating Layer server (IDOL), the search and content processing technology that was supposed to give HP a leg up in the business analytics space.

There is only one problem: HP has not yet made Autonomy products available to all of its channel partners. And partners with big data analytics practices, many of them eager to serve as evangelists for IDOL, are growing frustrated with what they consider to be a lack of communication from HP.

"We want to represent the solutions that Autonomy brings to HP, but we still cannot partner with Autonomy," a source from one of HP's top Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking (ESSN) partners told CRN recently. "I thought we would be able to sell Autonomy by now."

The HP ESSN partner, who requested anonymity, has heard that HP may release Autonomy products to the channel on Nov. 1 at the start of its fiscal year, but an HP spokesperson did not respond to a request for confirmation.

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In the meantime, the partner is confused as to why HP will not permit him to sell technology that is widely considered to have game-changing potential.

[Related: HP Shuffles Autonomy Leadership, Departed Execs Cite Stifling Bureaucracy ]

"It has been frustrating that HP has not allowed its partner base -- especially those partners who have invested in verticals that utilize big data -- to sign business development agreements featuring all of the Autonomy solution sets," said the ESSN partner.

An HP spokesperson told CRN Monday that the company does have partners selling Autonomy, but was only able to identify a single one -- Vienna, Va.-based MicroTech -- that is currently doing so. The spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on why HP is not making Autonomy available to the rest of its channel partners.

In a January interview with CRN, Whitman said HP would open up its distribution system to Autonomy products this year, but would do so in a measured way so as not to overwhelm partners.

"What I'm trying to do is not end up in a situation where we have sold so much that we don't deliver in a really high-quality, thoughtful way," Whitman told CRN in January. "So I've got a throttle on this right now. And we're just figuring it out. As soon as we figure it out, then we'll figure it out with the channel."

There are signs that HP -- which is in the midst of a major corporate restructuring that has included the shedding of 27,000 jobs and the merging of HP's printer and PC businesses -- is still trying to determine how it will go to market with Autonomy products.

NEXT: HP Going Back To Drawing Board On Autonomy?

In a town hall meeting with partners last month, Randy Seidl, senior vice president and general manager of HP's U.S. Enterprise Group, said HP had identified a number of "stovepipe" businesses in the Autonomy organization, and that these have varying levels of strategic importance to HP.

The gist of the meeting was that HP is looking to whittle down its focus with Autonomy to a few key areas, according to one partner who was at the event.

"It sounded to me like [HP is] going back to the drawing board on Autonomy," said the source, who is also a large ESSN partner. "It seems as though Autonomy was basically a consulting organization that would go in and write code, but it wasn't really a repeatable product."

In addition to IDOL, Autonomy also offers information governance, information discovery, records management, data archiving and Web content management products.

When HP announced its $10.3 billion acquisition of Autonomy last August, HP said the technology would give it "the ability to reinvent the $55 billion business analytics software and services space". So far, though, this goal has eluded HP.

A number of Autonomy's top executives have left HP since the acquisition, and co-founder and CEO Mike Lynch was shown the door in May after second quarter software license revenue results that HP CEO Meg Whitman described as "disappointing".

HP COO and Chief Strategy Officer Bill Veghte is now leading Autonomy, and HP is in the process of searching for a new leader for the unit, All Things Digital reported last month.

In HP's Q2 earnings call, Whitman described Autonomy's problems as "a classic enterprise company scaling challenge" and suggested that it was something that could be corrected. "When you go from $40 million to $400 million [in sales], it's a whole different ballgame," Whitman said in the call.

HP's most notable move with Autonomy so far has been to integrate IDOL with its Data Protection 7 backup and recovery software.

But if HP is going to achieve its lofty goals for Autonomy, and see some return from its massive outlay of capital, it will have to get Autonomy into the hands of channel partners sooner rather than later.