7 Ways HP Plans To Keep Pace With IT Industry Changes

Whitman Takes Center Stage

Hewlett-Packard just unveiled plans to split up into two separate companies, one focused on PCs and printers, the other on enterprise technology.

In the midst of what is probably the most intense period of compressed change in HP's 75-year history, CEO Meg Whitman found time to speak at an event in San Francisco hosted by Entisys, a Concord, Calif.-based solution provider that's one of its closest channel partners.

Whitman spoke frankly about what she has accomplished since taking over as HP CEO three years ago, and gave everyone a glimpse of why she thinks HP is poised for future greatness. Following are seven key points she made in a 30-minute discussion with Entisys CEO Mike Strohl.

1. On The Importance Of 'The New Style Of IT'

Everything about the way apps are written is changing, said Whitman at the event. It's gone from one release every nine months to SaaS services that are updated every week. The way apps are deployed is also changing, she said. There used to be lines between operations and developers, now they are working closely together, with daily interaction, and that's driving the DevOps trend.

Whitman said when she was CEO of eBay, the company built its infrastructure for peak loads -- she called it "Building the church for Easter Sunday." Now, eBay -- like other large enterprises -- can tap into computing resources on an on-demand, as-needed basis.

2. On Why Companies Will Have To Make Younger Employees Happy

Companies also are going to have to adjust to new technology from a cultural standpoint, in order to attract and hire all-important young talent, Whitman said. This means embracing things such as DevOps and giving employees the option of using technology as they see fit, which is already happening with the bring-your-own-device craze.

"The 20-somethings at HP are having none of what we put up with in the early days of our career," Whitman said. "Our sys admins don't want little cubicles out in the NOC. They want mobility, IT orchestration tools. They have a completely different relationship with technology than we did."

3. Why HP Enterprise Is Ready To Wheel And Deal

HP is splitting into two parts, one for printers and PCs and the other for all the enterprise products and services it sell. Whitman, who will lead the HP Enterprise company, said it's set up with $10.5 billion that she intends to use to "get even more aggressive" in acquiring companies to boost its business.

Whitman is three years into the five-year turnaround plan she has mapped out for HP, and she's ready to start making some big moves. HP has gone from $12 billion in debt three years ago to $5 billion in positive cash on the operating company side, she said. "We're in a much better financial condition than we were three years ago," she said at the event.

4. On Why HP Has Hitched Its Wagon To OpenStack

HP earlier this year unveiled its OpenStack cloud effort, called Helion, marking its official embrace of the open-source set of cloud orchestration and management technologies.

Whitman said the way HP sees it, there will be a dichotomy between proprietary clouds and clouds built on OpenStack. "Much like Linux, probably 30, 40 to even 50 percent of clouds will be built on OpenStack," she said at the event. HP will lead the OpenStack community just as it's done with Linux, Whitman said, adding that HP is now the No. 1 contributor of code to the OpenStack Project. "We are going to build an architecture around where the puck is going," she said at the event.

5. On Why Converged Infrastructure Is Getting So Popular

"This is a trend that is really gaining steam in the industry," Whitman said of hyper-converged infrastructure, where servers, storage and networking are sold as pre-integrated bundles. "Instead of buying everything and knitting it together yourself, you buy an integrated play."

HP offers converged infrastructure with all-HP gear, yet it also lets customers substitute Cisco switches if they want, though Whitman feigned incredulousness with the notion that anyone would want to go this route. "Why you'd want to pay that price is not clear to me at all," she quipped.

HP runs its entire technology backbone on HP networking and storage products, and uses no Cisco networking or EMC storage gear, Whitman said.

6. On HP's Re-Embrace Of Channel Partners

When Whitman took over as HP CEO, one of the first things she realized was a need to improve the vendor's relationships with channel partners. "This company was built through our network of partners. We had sort of gone away from that," Whitman said at the event.

So in addition to getting HP's innovation engine back on track, Whitman instructed her managers to put partners back at the center of the company's sales efforts. As it turned out, this was music to the ears of her staff.

"When I said to the organization, we're pivoting back to the channel, it was like magic," Whitman said. "We still have more work to do, but we've made a lot of progress."

7. On Why HP Is The Last Company Standing In High-Performance Computing

HP is pushing the computing power envelope in ways that rivals such as IBM and Lenovo just aren't doing, Whitman said. "We're the last man standing in high-performance computing," she said at the event.

HP is working on a "data center-on-a-chip" -- which is called "The Machine" -- that has the potential to "fundamentally change how computing is done," she said, adding that this is the kind of innovation HP will be focusing more on in the future.

"This is what HP should be doing," Whitman said. "This is the core founder DNA."