Leo Apotheker: HP Will Be The Cloud Leader

Hewlett-Packard's new President and CEO Leo Apotheker on Monday broke his silence on his vision for the company by promising that HP will be a leader in cloud computing on the strength of an infrastructure, security, and connectivity portfolio second to none.

HP has been investing in new technologies such as WebOS and making acquisitions that will help customers not only build and take advantage of cloud computing, but also be connected to the cloud whether at home, on the road, or at work, Apotheker said.

Apotheker made his comments during the HP Summit 2011 conference, held Monday in San Francisco.

HP's product and services portfolio fits well with three main trends impacting the IT industry, including the growing consumerization of IT, the growing acceptance of cloud computing, and the increasingly mobile workforce, Apotheker said.

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"The old paradigm of one person per device is over...(Consumers are) looking for a better solution, and if the enterprise doesn't provide it, so be it," he said.

As a result of these trends, on-premises devices are being replaced by clouds, and clouds are being complemented by mobile devices, all of which are leading to security issues related to how to manage the need for privacy vs. making information accessible and the importance of gating sensitive data, Apotheker said.

Meeting such a vision requires a leadership in cloud, connectivity, and other areas of the IT industry, Apotheker said. "All of us need a trusted partner to navigate this new world which we see is here...Who but HP could deliver this leadership," he said.

HP has market-leading positions in servers, client devices, storage, networking, and other areas important to building cloud infrastructures, as well as the right partnerships to meet customer requirements, Apotheker said.

"The opportunities in the cloud are extraordinary, and we're prepared to lead with our partners," he said.

HP's primary strategy going forward can be broken down into three areas, Apotheker said.

The first is the cloud, where HP is helping customers to both transition to cloud computing and build cloud infrastructures.

HP is currently building a cloud platform that encompasses what is today more commonly referred to as middleware, in which much of the software customers use will be offered as a service, Apotheker said. This platform will support multiple languages, and will be open to third-party developers.

HP will also build an open marketplace to provide customers services, including an app store, all of which will be anchored with solid security, Apotheker said. The app store will provide both HP and non-HP applications, he said.

All these components will be part of a complete ecosystem that will allow the development of customer-aware systems, Apotheker said. "And only HP has the ability to build this," he said.

HP has the data center infrastructure and networking technology to build clouds for customers, Apotheker said. However, he declined to specify which cloud platform technologies his company will use, and instead said that HP will work with a variety of partners, including Microsoft.

The second part of HP's strategy is focused on connectivity where HP will deliver via its WebOS technology a single user interface that will connect home, mobile, and enterprise users to ensure that information can be accessed at any time from any device, Apotheker said. HP has the technology to make all this happen, he said. "And in this game, size does matter," he said.

HP got the WebOS technology with its acquisition last year of smart phone developer Palm.

Next: Using WebOS, Vertica To Build New Cloud, Software Capabilities

WebOS is an unbelievable attractive technology that provides seamless connectivity between user devices, Apotheker said. HP plans to ship WebOS first on dedicated devices including HP smart phones and the HP Tablet, which will be available in June. HP is also developing a version which customers can access via the Web by year-end, after which WebOS will be loaded on all HP's end user devices, including PCs and printers.

However, Apotheker said, the introduction of WebOS does not mean HP is abandoning its long-term relationship with Microsoft. "Our relationship with Microsoft was strong, is strong, and will remain strong," he said. "There is no question of that...We will be shipping Windows-based PCs with WebOS. Our tablets will be based on WebOS. And on Windows 7."

The third part is software, where HP is a leader in providing management and security, and can provide an open cloud marketplace, Apotheker said. However, this does not mean that HP has to provide such applications as ERP and others that are already provided by partners. "To be clear, we don't need to own a big, transactional operation," he said.

To illustrate HP's software capabilities, Apotheker invited Martin Fink, senior vice president and general manager of Business Critical Systems at HP, to the stage to introduce a new business analytics appliance based on Vertica, a developer of tools for analyzing huge volumes of data, which HP acquired last month.

The Vertica appliance, which will be available as software, a service, and as a physical appliance, manages unstructured, semi-structured, and structured data in such a way as to provide real-time analysis of the data as it is being loaded, Fink said. "Only Vertica has the ability to load business data and analyze it at the same time," he said.

The physical appliances are being delivered in quarter-rack, half-rack, and full-rack configurations which can be combined into larger systems, Fink said. "Keep in mind, none of these systems existed a few weeks ago," he said.

The Vertica technology can be used to provide real-time data to systems for use in transactions, Fink said. For instance, he cited the example of a car rental company which traditionally based its rental price on data which may have been updated a month or more earlier. With real-time analytics, Fink said, the rental price can reflect the driver's driving record, the day's weather, and even how risk is impacted by the earthquake in Japan.