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HP's Hurd pledges support for Itanium

HP's Hurd pledges support for Itanium

Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Mark Hurd said that his company will "double down" its commitment to its server storage management software businesses, and he offered up a long-range vision of IT that includes automated data centers.

Fielding questions from Gartner analysts at the research firm's ITxpo in Orlando, Hurd also said the company is committed to its use of the Itanium chip it co-developed with Intel, which is also stepping up its investment in the processor.

"If you buy from HP -- from an Itanium perspective -- you have my commitment for support," he said. Itanium is facing competition from x86 64-bit chips, as well as an ongoing push by enterprise rivals such as IBM with its Power chips and Sun Microsystems with its UltraSparc processors. In total, 75,000 servers with Itanium processors have shipped worldwide since the end of June, with HP accounting for two-thirds of those shipments, according to research firm IDC.

Tuesday's presentation was Hurd's most expansive yet on HP's technology direction since he became CEO in March. HP executives at the company's Technology Forum, which is also taking place in Orlando, said yesterday that HP would be focusing on its core products lines and wouldn't spin off any divisions.

Hurd said he is committed to HP's adaptive enterprise framework, developed by his predecessor, Carly Fiorina. But he was critical of the management structure that grew during her nearly six-year tenure.

It was a management process that "at its lunatic conclusion" had the CEO acting as a tie-breaker in pricing disagreements between the product group and a customer-facing group, said Hurd. "After careful analysis, I determined it was a bad model," he said, to audience chuckles.

Instead, Hurd outlined a more decentralized decision-making process that gives more "ownership" to those at the point of customer contact.

In regard to the company's adaptive enterprise efforts, Hurd said, "We have to make sure that we can show up with products that are deliverable against that framework, and I think we can do a better job with that."

Among those who attended Hurd's talk was Mark Shozda, senior vice president and CIO at PNC Advisors, which is part of Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group Inc. "I thought he was broad and general. Maybe some more specifics would have been good," he said.

But a key take-away for Rick Schwartz, CIO at HarperCollins Publishers in New York, was Hurd's approach to services. "The most significant thing he said is he is not going to compete at the high end of the consulting arena," said Schwartz. "I actually think it's a smart move -- they've got their hands full."

Software management tools and systems are evidently high on Hurd's list, but not to the exclusion of storage or servers. He said management software development -- the ability to automate data centers -- will be critical to CIOs. And the companies that will lead will be those that make the research and development investment.

HP has some US$14.5 billion in cash on hand and is spending about US$3.7 billion annually on research and development. Without getting into specifics about acquisition and research strategies, Hurd said the company wants to "double down in markets where we want to lead."

Later, at the HP Technology Forum, Hurd won a big round of applause from users in attendance when he said: "We got a lot of criticism about our account management, but I don't think it has anything to do with the people. We need to get rid of the checkers of the checkers, and just allow people to do their job."

He also reiterated his commitment to the adaptive enterprise, but added, "We need to show up with more products that we can bring off the truck and deliver to customers."

-- Tom Krazit of the IDG News Service contributed to this report.


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