HP Picks Microsoft Exec to Run Analytics Division Autonomy

NEWS ANALYSIS: Former Microsoft executive Robert Youngjohns will take over as senior vice president and general manager of the Autonomy/Information Management business unit -- a division upon which HP is counting to become a substantial profit leader in years to come.

A year after it shelled out $11 billion for a virtually unknown data storage and management company from the U.K. called Autonomy, Hewlett-Packard believes it has found the right person to manage it.


Former Microsoft executive Robert Youngjohns on Sept. 17 will take over as senior vice president and general manager of the Autonomy/Information Management business unit -- a division upon which HP is counting to become a substantial profit leader in years to come.

Youngjohns, who will report directly to the executive vice president of HP Software, George Kadifa, was president of Microsoft's North American region. Previously, he was president and CEO of Callidus Software following managerial jobs at Sun Microsystems and IBM.

Youngjohns replaces former Autonomy CEO and founder Mike Lynch, whom HP let go last May at the same time it announced a restructuring that would cut about 27,000 jobs globally.

Why Co-Founder Was Let Go

At the time of Lynch's release, HP CFO Cathy Lesjack said that Autonomy's "license revenue was disappointing, sales execution was a challenge and big deals were taking longer to close." CEO Meg Whitman said that Autonomy's problems were "not the product ... it's not the market ... it's not the competition. This is classic entrepreneurial company scaling challenges -- it's a whole different ball game."

In the face of clear-cut industry trends toward more IT spending for refreshed data center hardware and software to process larger and larger business workloads, Youngjohns will be charged with leading Autonomy to take HP's products and services in the information management and analytics software sector to the next level.

Gartner, IDC and other analytics firms have estimated that more than 80 percent of the world's data is not kept inside databases. Thus, HP bought Autonomy with the idea that it would help it become the world's leading manager and analyst of unstructured data stores.

Autonomy, which evolved out of a project at Cambridge University under Lynch 15 years ago, has developed software that is able to sift through huge data stores and categorize patterns found in unstructured and semi-structured information. It effectively structurizes non-databased data so that it can be used for business purposes.

Law firms, for example, can use Autonomy to filter quickly through e-mails or other data for legal evidence in court cases. Enterprises can use it to determine internal fraud or perform research for compliance-related purposes.

This is all very different from analyzing data that is already housed within the walls of columns and rows. Plenty of companies already do that; not as many do what Autonomy does.

Cloud Deployment a Key Factor

The kicker is that Autonomy is engineered to perform these services through cloud-based services. Since HP already has the cloud infrastructure ready and waiting for these capabilities, the original idea for a good fit between the two companies remains an interesting business proposition.

In June 2012, Autonomy announced a series of cloud-based packages designed to help organizations generate a greater return on their big data initiatives. Based on the HP Converged Cloud and the Autonomy Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) 10, these products include new capabilities for processing Hadoop data, as well as a new Clickstream analytics solution.

The solutions enable businesses to discover new trends, opportunities and risks, and accelerate revenue growth by understanding and acting on Web Clickstream, sentiment and transactional data.

eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft contributed to this story.

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features and Analysis for eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...