Meg Whitman And Friends: HP Prepares To Disrupt IT

Hewlett-Packard Chairman, President and CEO Meg Whitman said during her Tuesday HP Discover keynote that her company is focused on doing what it takes to be a complete provider of solutions to customers, and backed it up by relying on her top lieutenants to drive home the message.

Whitman, who is overseeing the split of Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP into two separate Fortune 50 companies, started the afternoon's general session laying out her vision about how to meet the changing requirements of enterprise customers, and then yielded the stage to other HP executives to reinforce her message.

It was the right way to help customers and partners understand that a wide range of HP services will help the company to meet fast-changing customer requirements, said Dan Molina, CTO of Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and HP channel partner.

[Related: HP's Whitman: 'Either You Are Being Disruptive, Or You Are Being Disrupted']

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"Meg talked about the overall vision," Molina told CRN. "But she had the HP Enterprise Services leader deliver the message. And he brought in the other executives to show how services is the glue to holding everything together."

HP on Nov. 1 will be split into two separate companies -- Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, with its focus on data center infrastructure and the HP Helion cloud offerings, and HP Inc., with its target on becoming the leading personal systems and printing company, Whitman said.

"We will be even more innovative, and even more competitive [than we are now]," she said.

The industry is at a point where the cloud, big data and mobility are combining to make it easier than ever to create new ideas, but those ideas are held back by traditional IT infrastructures that are too rigid, Whitman said.

Today's entrepreneurs like Uber leverage the Web, digital services, and so on to develop new businesses, but are less likely to focus on creating IT infrastructures, she said. "Uber didn't need to invent new technology to start a business," she said. "It just took advantage of existing mobile and cloud infrastructures."

The new style of business demands a new style of IT, Whitman said. "But you have to pick a business partner with the breadth and experience you need," she said. "And HP is that partner."

Adapting to that new style of IT requires flexibility when it comes to developing infrastructures, Whitman said. "Some of our competitors come at this from a services perspective," she said. "Some come from a software perspective, or a hardware perspective. HP is the only company that brings it all together."

The IT industry requires four new transformations: hybrid infrastructures, protection of digital assets, empowering of technology and enabling workplace productivity, Whitman said.

"Being successful in these areas requires more than services, software or hardware," she said. "And HP is here to combine them together."

Mike Nefkens, executive vice president of HP Enterprise Services, onstage said that the first transformation -- to hybrid infrastructures -- stems from estimates that by 2020, the industry could see 7.6 billion users, 100 billion connected devices and 1 trillion applications.

"You need to be able to bridge the applications of today with the applications of tomorrow," Nefkens said. "And they're different."

About 95 percent of enterprises believe they are behind where they need to be in terms of that hybrid integration of old and new and, as a result, will have to move quickly to transform their IT, Nefkens said. "The journey to hybrid is hard. That's why your choice of partner is critical."

Antonio Neri, senior vice president of HP's Enterprise Group, said that businesses have legacy applications, but need to build for tomorrow. "To do this, you have to converge and virtualize your infrastructure," Neri said.

HP already is providing the solutions for the required convergence, Neri said.

As examples, Neri introduced Manish Goel, senior vice president and general manager for HP storage, who presented HP's 3PAR StoreServ all-flash storage array technology as a way to converge storage onto a high-speed, simple platform for software-defined data center solutions.

Neri also introduced Bill Hilf, senior vice president of HP Helion cloud product, who presented HP's new Helion CloudSystem 9.0 with its built-in OpenStack integration and AWS compatibility as a way for converging cloud infrastructures.

The second transformation is improving the ways businesses can protect their applications and data in the face of ever-increasing risks arising from such areas as cybercriminals or new exposure to the Internet of Things, Nefkens said. However, while security is vital, it has to be balanced with the need to provide access to digital assets, he said.

Robert Youngjohns, executive vice president and general manager for HP software, said the journey toward a secure infrastructure is a multistep process starting with knowing the kinds of risks that are coming, securing digital interactions, detecting and managing the inevitable breaches, and ensuring continuity and availability.

HP's February acquisition of Voltage, a big data encryption security developer, gives HP the ability to encrypt data from the point of creation throughout its entire life cycle without impacting how an application sees the data, Youngjohns said.

The third transformation, empowering the data-driven organization, looks at big data not as a solution but as part of a solution, Youngjohns said.

HP is using its Haven technology for simplifying big data access to provide predictive applications for a wide range of tasks, including predicting the success of new applications or increasing security, he said. HP also has introduced a reference architecture for Hadoop, he said.

The fourth transformation is enabling data-driven workplace productivity, which Nefkens said brings all the other transformations together.

"Everything else is lost if the last mile is not managed because, in the digital world, access is king," he said.

Dominic Orr, CEO of wireless networking technology developer Aruba Networks, which early this year was acquired by HP, told the HP Discover audience that workplace productivity will be increasingly important as employees use work time to take care of personal business while bringing their work with them outside the office.

"With 'Generation Mobile,' we've completely lost it," Orr said. "We've completely blurred work and play."

Orr coined a phrase, "collisionable moment," to describe the moment when compute and communication resources come together and make it possible for colleagues to work together anytime and from anywhere.'

"The infrastructure is now part of your customer relationship system. ... That is the new style of business enabled by IT," he said.

Aruba brings to HP and its customers key capabilities for enabling collisionable moments, including wireless connectivity that allows smooth roaming and multimedia access; user-centric security to eliminate issues caused by corporate firewalls; software-defined networking to provide flexibility; and proactive and predictive management capabilities, Orr said.

The HP executives presented a comprehensive look at how customers will have to transform their businesses, and showed solution providers many opportunities for helping with that transformation, Nth's Molina said.

Molina said HP's message about empowering the data-driven organization is very powerful. "It's not just about traditional systems," he said. "It's about providing access to all sorts of new data and the need for a big data platform to manage it all."

Orr's view about workplace productivity and collisional moments was also spot-on, Molina said.

"With advances in wireless technologies, people are moving away from wired infrastructures," he said. "Aruba is very disruptive technology, and truly enables the mobile workforce."