HP's Apotheker Revs Engine On Cloud, Mobility, Software

At the opening of HP Discover 2011 in Las Vegas, HP CEO Leo Apotheker offered insight into how he plans to pump up the company's capabilities in cloud computing, mobility and enterprise software.

HP is in the process of building a full cloud stack that includes infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, and Open Cloud Marketplace, and HP will be launching a public cloud offering "soon", Apotheker told a Discover 2011 keynote crowd of around 10,000 attendees.

Cognizant that its customers will transition to cloud at different speeds, HP has positioned itself as a go-to purveyor of hybrid cloud infrastructure, and this in an area HP expects to bear fruit for the next several years, Apotheker said. "We recognize that the cloud is the most disruptive force in technology since the advent of the PC," he said.

To make the plunge more attractive to those on the fence, HP's Financial Services division is earmarking $2 billion for customers that want to invest in enterprise cloud deployments, Apotheker said.

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Apotheker didn't mention it specifically, but Apple's launch of iCloud on Monday provided an illustrative backdrop for the transformative effect that cloud is having on a number of industry segments.

"Look what the combination of connectivity and cloud has done to the music industry, publishing, manufacturing and healthcare. Everything is being delivered as a service," he said.

HP CloudSystem, is a Converged Infrastructure product that wraps together software and services and was designed in partnership with cloud service providers. As an example, Apotheker invited on stage Kerry Bailey, president of Verizon Terremark, who shared his company's vision for where IT is headed.

"The expectation from organizations is that they're going to buy IT as a service. Our response is to deliver everything from network to applications as a service," Bailey said in the keynote.

Apotheker then shifted to HP's mobility plans and offered what could be construed as a more concrete timeframe for the release of the long awaited TouchPad tablet than HP has given previously. Apotheker told Discover attendees the TouchPad will be available "very shortly", while HP officials have made themselves hoarse in recent months repeating the "summer" timeframe.

The TouchPad is a dead ringer for Apple's iPad from a physical standpoint, but HP has imbued the device with the kind of enterprise IT hooks and integration that will allow companies to deploy it without creating headaches for IT, Apotheker suggested.

"TouchPad is not only really cool, it's also uniquely appropriate for businesses. It's designed from the ground up with enterprises in mind, in terms of security and running enterprise apps," Apotheker said. "And in true HP fashion, we'll leave the garage door open to partners and customers so you can access tools and drive your own innovation.

HP's software business accounted for just three percent of the company's $126 billion in fiscal 2010 revenue and Apotheker has made it a priority to boost this figure. One area in which HP plans to do this is in so-called Big Data, which Apotheker described as the combination of structured and unstructured data that represents huge logistical challenge for enterprise IT.

HP's acquisition in March of Vertica Systems, a business intelligence vendor and erstwhile HP partner, is an indication of where HP intends to build its expertise, Apotheker said.

HP's software business may be relatively small at this point in time but Apotheker said this actually enables the company to be nimble in response to industry trends.

"At HP we don’t have aging legacy franchise to protect, so we can leap directly to where the market is going," Apotheker said.