Universal embarrassment for HP

Despite the head of HP's software group quitting mere days before the start of her business unit's largest European conference, the show goes on

HP held its European software conference this week despite the fact that the head of its software group quit suddenly last week.

Nora Denzel, HP's former senior vice-president and general manager of the company's Software Global Business Unit, resigned on Thursday for "personal reasons".

Denzel was slated to be the keynote speaker on the opening day of HP Software Universe in Nice, France, on Tuesday but was replaced at short-notice by Russ Daniels, a vice-president and the CTO of HP's software division.

HP officials are expecting 3,200 customers, users, staff and press to attend the event which runs until Friday. Software Universe is the biggest event in the HP calendar.

Denzel came from Legato [now part of EMC] to join HP in 2000, after starting her IT career with IBM. "She started the Adaptive Enterprise strategy almost three years ago here at Software Universe," Todd DeLaughter, formerly general manager for Open View and now acting head of the software business for HP, told ZDNet UK.

"We worked very closely at the time and I have been very involved in the executions of that strategy, in respect of identifying the companies to acquire and cleaning up the core portfolio and moving us to profitability."

In the third quarter of 2005 HP software business declared itself in profit for the first time. It made $27m (£15m) in profit on the back of $311m in revenue.

"I think with finally reaching that profitability milestone that if she was going to change, that was the right time to do it," said DeLaughter.

"You always expect change and especially in bosses; they come and go," said Andy Isherwood, general manager of HP's software business in for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "I don't think it was a huge surprise. She had a job to do, she was successful at building out that strategy and you don't know what's going on in someone's private life."

HP's chief executive and president, Mark Hurd, made no appearance at Software Universe, even by satellite, contenting himself to being quoted by various HP officials who said that he saw software as "core" to HP's business.

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