Aiming to become an architectural leader in the application development space, HP is throwing its weight and investment dollars behind developing applications and infrastructure for Microsoft's .Net framework over rival platform J2EE.
Despite HP's worldwide commitment to providing and supporting applications and infrastructure solutions for both .Net and J2EE, Tim Brewin, HP Australia's managing principal, enterprise Microsoft practice, said the local operation will not invest in developing J2EE infrastructure itself but will instead partner with Australian J2EE developers.
"In Australia, there is a greater emphasis on Microsoft's .Net than on the Java side," Brewin said. "There is a larger number of boutique players in the J2EE space."
Michael Barnes, vice president international at analyst firm Meta Group, said the decision to concentrate on both .Net and J2EE while building its .Net capabilities puts HP in a very good position in the enterprise space.
"Java is further along," he said. "There's more potential now for HP in .Net development, as it's not as mature."
Looking at it from this angle, HP is "spot on" with its decision to invest in .Net, Barnes said.
Brewin's comments follow Microsoft and HP's joint announcement in September that they would invest US$50 million and pool their skills to develop .Net services and solutions worldwide. The initiative, which stems from a long-standing alliance between the two companies, is designed to promote, sell and help users build systems that rely on the .Net development framework.
As part of the new arrangement, more than 5,000 HP sales professionals will be trained on .Net worldwide. In addition, 3,000 service professionals will become certified on .Net, while a new group of .Net solution architects will be formed within HP by the end of 2004. HP also said it would establish a worldwide sales force of systems engineers and enterprise sales staff dedicated to deploying .Net solutions.
Brewin said Australia will benefit from the investment primarily through HP's support of its .Net capability developments and providing financial assistance for training and accrediting existing members of the Microsoft team in .Net. Australia accounts for around 2 per cent of HP's business worldwide, he said.
HP's team in Australia has been developing and deploying .Net solutions since July, Brewin said. Several team members have also been involved in .Net training in both the US and Europe over the past 12 months. Locally, 25 HP/Microsoft consultants are currently .Net-capable, as are 115 in-house infrastructure developers. A total of 20 are .Net-accredited. Brewin said the aim is to have all of HP's 140 Microsoft-trained employees accredited in .Net, a process that should take about six months.
Additional development and coding of .Net architecture will take place at HP's application development centre in Christchurch, where 60 to 80 of the 140 staff are already accredited in .Net.
As an early adopter of technology, Brewin said HP expects the uptake of .Net in Australia to grow rapidly over the next 12 months, reaching a peak in June or July next year. In his opinion, this growth will be driven by organisations looking to Web-enable their current legacy systems, and wanting to "refresh" their organisations' infrastructures. For instance, IT shops that have purchased a lot of drop-in servers for their networks are now analysing the cost-effectiveness of managing these servers.
"Server consolidation is now becoming appealing, as the cost of managing these systems is becoming almost prohibitive. So there's a surge in the infrastructure business."
HP's global .Net strategy is expected to be officially announced in the coming weeks. In the meantime, HP Australia is already involved with a number of large accounts in several proof-of-concept tests of its .Net solutions, Brewin said.
"We've got the green light, it's just a matter of waiting for the ceremony."