Coming off a rough week that saw it badly miss earnings goals and fire three top executives, Hewlett-Packard is trying to turn attention to the future, highlighting several new product releases at its HPWorld conference.
In the spotlight for the annual conference are products aimed at inducing new and existing customers to migrate to HP’s 64-bit, Itanium-based Integrity line of servers and compatible storage devices.
HP describes Integrity as the “platform of choice” for its enterprise customers, because it offers opportunities for additional flexibility, as well as capacity for virtualization and utility computing, which is the theme of HP’s overall product push.
The server virtualization is starting with a push to enable machines to run both HP’s Unix and Linux at the same time and will eventually include the capability to run both Linux and Windows on the same servers, the company said.
Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP’s Technology Solutions Group, said the company is making it easier for its customers to become “truly adaptive enterprises” by building on its achievements with Unix and translating them to other platforms.
“HP’s extraordinary achievements in Unix with HP-UX have paved the way for us to deliver industry-leading capabilities across multiple operating environments,” Livermore said. “This enables customers to reduce costs and simplify change through standardization without compromising on agility.”
HP might have its work cut out for it when it comes to convincing customers to make the move to newer machines. A survey by Interex, the HP user group that runs the conference, which is being held this year in Chicago, Illinois, found that just 16 percent of likely users said they plan to migrate to Itanium-based servers like the Integrity line, with 42 percent saying they had no plans to migrate.
One potential stumbling block appears to be worries about moving abruptly to a 64-bit system, with a third of users saying they’d prefer to see an intermediate step made available, with servers that ran both 32- and 64-bit programs.
But HP is undeterred and plans a barrage of rollouts at the conference, dangling features such as the Global Workload Manager, which automatically allocates resources among servers to optimize utilization and the Integrity Virtual Machine, which maximizes server utilization by allowing multiple deployments of HP-UX 11i and Linux to share a single machine.
Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds told the E-Commerce Times that companies do not enter server migration lightly, given the time and expense involved, but that HP and others need to lay the foundation so that they can keep customers who are ready to upgrade and emphasize that they are at the forefront of technology improvements.
“Vendors are always extolling the virtues of migrating to newer platforms,” Reynolds said. “Enterprises are constantly hearing why now’s the time and this is the platform to move up to. But most are going to proceed with great caution.”
Answering the Call
The conference convenes as HP faces several competitive threats. Sun Microsystems announced it would expand its HP Away program, which seeks to convert HP customers to Sun’s own products and services. IBM has gained market share as more enterprises opt for Linux, and Dell made a strong statement by posting a successful quarter just hours after HP missed targets.
Meanwhile, some say the latest bump in the road, with CEO Carly Fiorina firing three executives in the wake of the bad showing, demonstrates that HP has still not fully integrated the Compaq acquisition. The high-ranking executive let go last week was a holdover from Compaq who apparently failed to report problems with an internal systems upgrade in time.
Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle said Fiorina’s actions were designed to quickly put last quarter’s problems behind HP and focus the entire company on executing going forward.
“That kind of quick, decisive action goes a long way to setting a tone for the company,” Enderle told the E-Commerce Times.