HOUSTON—It was all business for Mark Hurd on Sept. 18.
In his keynote address here at the HP Technology Forum, Hurd, Hewlett-Packards president and CEO, talked about the companys plans for helping customers consolidate their business centers, manage their infrastructures and pare their expenses.
However, outside of a humorous aside, he didnt mention the controversy that has engulfed the companys board of directors recently.
Pointing out that Jack Novia, senior vice president and managing director of HPs Technology Solutions Group Americas, is scheduled to throw the first pitch out at the Houston Astros game Sept. 19, Hurd said hed "tried to give him some incentive not to embarrass the company. After all the stuff weve had over the past week, this could be a new front for us. I hope he does well."
The comment drew laughter from the 5,200 or so attendees at the five-day event.
Afterward, Hurd swung into a presentation of HPs accomplishments up to this point in his 18-month tenure, and what the company hopes to accomplish going forward.
The lack of comment regarding the board of directors situation didnt appear to bother the HP customers and partners at the show.
"That just goes back to the old [ex-CEO] Carly [Fiorina] era," said Joseph Meister, director of development and alumni services for John Hopkins, in Baltimore. "That really doesnt affect us."
One man, who didnt want his name used, agreed.
"I dont really care about all that," he said. "It doesnt really matter to me."
HPs board has drawn the attention of state and federal agencies for an investigation initiated by Chairman Patricia Dunn into leaks to news media over the past two years.
To read more about the board of directors controversy,
Among other things, the company hired by HP to conduct the investigation acquired the telephone records of board members and several members of the media using a method called "pretexting," where investigators essentially hid their identities to the get the records from the telephone companies.
The fallout from this point has been the resignation of two directors—one, George Keyworth, after admitting to being the news leak, and the other, Tom Perkins, in protest of the conduct of the investigation.
In addition, in January, Dunn will step down as chairman—through remain on the board—and hand over the reins to Hurd.
Instead of talking about that, Hurds message to the crowd was about moves that the Palo Alto, Calif., company has made up to this point to continue to fill out its management software offerings and how HP will use its ongoing data center consolidation project not only as a way of saving the company money but also as a showcase for customers interested in doing the same thing.
He touted the recent announcement of HPs plans to buy Mercury Interactive, a core part of the companys plans to take advantage of a growing opportunity HP has dubbed business technology optimization, or BTO, or automating and managing technology to best suit business needs, work that currently is primarily done in a manual or custom fashion, according to Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HPs Technology Solutions Group, which includes software.
Automating the work takes the human factor out of the equation, reducing errors and increasing efficiency, he said.
"It comes down to, how many things can you automate?" he said. "Can you take the human element out of it?"
HPs aggressive three-year plan to consolidate 85 data centers into six in the United States will cut the number of applications run by HP from 5,000 to 1,500 and reduce the number of servers it runs from 23,000 to about 1,400, Hurd said.
It will be done with all HP products, which will enable the company to show users what the technology can do.
"We want to be the worlds best [example] of how to do IT consolidation [and] infrastructure consolidation," he said.
"What were doing internally is what were bringing to market."
Hurd also told the customers that HP plans to add salespeople as a way of being more responsive to customer needs.
Customers said they liked the ideas behind Hurds message, though John Hopkins Meister said he was looking for more product information.
"They were talking a lot about what they could help us do, but not a lot about what they would use to help us," he said.
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