HP makes its software pitch, defends Autonomy technology

HP courted customers for its software unit, defended Autonomy's technology and tried to position itself as a cloud and big data enabler. Will customers bite?

HP CEO Meg Whitman pitched the company's software wares as the glue that powers the cloud and a "new style of IT" and defended the underlying technology behind Autonomy write-downs be damned.

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The challenge for HP is that its software assets reside in the background and are decidedly more lowkey than what rivals provide. In a HP customer webcast, an experiment to outline the company's core focus, Whitman said "software is the glue that makes the new style of IT all happen."

However, it's also telling that Whitman touted both Salesforce and Workday internal implementations and noting how they changed the way HP worked. The messaging challenge is obvious: How does HP's software unit garner similar customer stories?

HP's spin on software is that it's all about managing infrastructure, powering the cloud and big data. In many respects, HP's software portfolio is more akin to CA or BMC, two other players that have critical applications behind the scenes, than Oracle, IBM or SAP.

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George Kadifa, HP's software chief, outlined the application stack and how it would be the sixth largest software company if independent. Kadifa also outlined HP's software stack, which includes Automony marketing performance and compliance applications. Security tools are led by HP's TippingPoint, ArcSight and Fortify businesses. Vertica was described as a data center accelerator that will be offered via HP's cloud. 

Both Kadifa and Whitman went out of their way to separate the Autonomy write-down and the price paid for it and the underlying technology. "We love the technology," said Whitman. "I think you're going to see Autonomy pay off really well here."

Also:  HP: Autonomy had 'serious accounting improprieties'  

Judging from customer queries, there were a lot of concerns about whether HP would support Autonomy in the long run. Kadifa said that HP has invested in Autonomy and boosted staffing levels. Whitman added that "we are 100 percent committed to Autonomy. This is great technology."

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"We are feeling good about the stability of the business," said Kadifa.

Whitman added: "We are 100 percent committed to Autonomy."

Autonomy aside, HP's core message is that it wants to be seen as more of a software player and will offer prospective customers a try before buying approach. One presubmitted question revolved around how a customer didn't know HP had a large software portfolio.

Kadifa noted that HP will deliver software via cloud or on-premise, features open tools, virtualization, information management and security. These applications are increasingly being packaged into suites.

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Overall, HP's plan appears to be to go direct to customers to counter negative perceptions about recent history and Autonomy. It remains to be seen if HP can be seen as a key software player for technology buyers.

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