Apotheker Finally Takes Center Stage in HP's Strategic Market Plans

HP's new CEO, Leo Apotheker, finally emerged from the background to present a strategic market vision that will focus on cloud computing, data analytics, software as a service and mobility.

SAN FRANCISCO-After the prolonged legal battle between Oracle and his former employer SAP forced him to keep a low profile for much of the past five months, Hewlett-Packard's New CEO Leo Apotheker finally emerged on March 14 to tell press and industry analysts about his strategic vision for the company.

HP now will move in the same direction recently taken by a number of other primarily hardware companies. Speaking at what was billed as the HP Summit at the Yerba Buena Center here, Apotheker says HP must turn to cloud computing, software, services and connectivity to diversify its business and stay competitive in the global market. "We are increasingly moving toward software as a service," Apotheker said.

Over the next two years, Apotheker said, HP will move to build a hybrid cloud ecosystem that combines public and private cloud computing resources to deliver what it is calling a "portfolio of cloud services" from the core infrastructure to "platform-as-a-service" solutions. This will include the development of what it is calling an "open cloud marketplace" that will provide an enterprise applications and services catalog along with a "secure, scalable and trusted" consumer app store.

HP is also planning to make a major push into high-volume enterprise data analytics with the introduction of what it has dubbed the new "big data" appliance that is based on high-speed analytics technology from Vertica Systems that HP announced it was acquiring in February. HP has said the Vertica Acquisition will close in its second fiscal quarter.

HP had an example of the appliance, the size of a small refrigerator, running on the Yerba Buena Center stage. Apotheker said the system would deliver "real-time analytics for the next generation of business intelligence." The system would provide "limitless scaling" along with "load and go simplicity" for such tasks and Website traffic analysis, retail sales trend analysis or for pharmaceutical research.

With the introduction of the Vertica analytics appliance, HP is moving into a market that IBM has long claimed as its specialty. But in a post-presentation press conference, Apotheker vehemently denied that HP was playing catch-up to IBM or anyone else in the analytics or cloud computing fields.

Apotheker said he was recently speaking with a senior IBM executive who offered him his congratulations on HP's initiatives in data analytics. The executive's tone "seemed to indicate some nervousness" about HP's new push in the analytics field, he said.

HP has an established presence in the analytics field. But with the new Vertica appliance, "HP can really open up that market, especially in the market for analytics as a service," he said.

HP is also counting on webOS, the mobile operating system it acquired with the buyout of Palm to allow it to make a broad new push into the mobility and connectivity field. "webOS has the potential to become a very broad and very massive platform," Apotheker said. He wants to get webOS working with just about all its hardware products, desktop PCs, laptops, notebooks, tablets, smartphones and printers. HP's goal, Apotheker said, is to get webOS running on 100 million devices a year, and that includes having webOS running on top of Windows PCs.

The HP Summit was Apotheker's first major public presentation to press and analysts in the United States since the company appointed him CEO on Sept. 30, 2010. HP hired him about seven months after he resigned as the CEO of enterprise resource planning software producer SAP after the company reported poor fiscal 2009 earnings.

However, Apotheker quickly became embroiled in a lawsuit between Oracle and SAP involving Oracle's claims that a former SAP subsidiary, TomorrowNow, had violated Oracle copyrights by downloading massive volumes of Oracle product documentation to provide competing third-party application support services.

Oracle attempted to subpoena Apotheker to testify during the trial in federal court last fall. But HP rejected the subpoena saying Oracle had already had a chance to question Apotheker about the TomorrowNow lawsuit. Furthermore, HP officials claimed they didn't know Apotheker's whereabouts so Oracle was never able to serve him with the subpoena during the entire course of the trial.

Oracle won its claim of copyright infringement in the trial and the court levied a $1.3 billion judgment against SAP, which is now appealing to try to reduce the size of the damage award.

John Pallatto

John Pallatto

John Pallatto has been editor in chief of QuinStreet Inc.'s eWEEK.com since October 2012. He has more than 40 years of experience as a professional journalist working at a daily newspaper and...