HP Placing More Bets On Storage Software

"We will focus more on software going forward. We've had storage specialists, but we've taken some of them and created a subset of specialists that is focused strictly on storage software. Next year, that's a battle we have to win," Burke told a crowd of about 85 HP solution providers at Arrow Electronics' SBM division's PowerTrain conference in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Storage software is "unplowed ground" for HP because the company has spent much of its efforts focused on selling storage hardware, even though the manufacturer has several software offerings, including OpenView Storage Area Manager and Data Protector, Burke said.

"Hardware we grew up with. We know how to sell that. It's been easy for us," Burke said.

Software has become the key influencer in getting end users to switch infrastructure platforms, he said. Most hardware has been standardized to become heterogenous, while software is still proprietary, he said.

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"It's much harder for us to win the war if something else is installed. A customer would quiver today if you told them they should do away with Oracle and move into SAP. Once a customer settles on something, it's harder to get a solution out of there," he said.

Solution providers said HP was making the right move to focus on software.

"Software is right. It's the next evolution to providing the total solution to end users along with hardware and software," said Jack Margossian, president of Comport Consulting, Ramsey, N.J.