We knew that HP was in acquisition mode for enterprise software, and it seems the $10 billion apple in HP's eye is UK-based software giant Autonomy. [UPDATE: HP also said it's discontinuing it WebOS operations and TouchPad line.]
We'll know more after the US markets close today and HP has its earnings statement for the most recent quarter. But if the Autonomy acquisition is true, it tells us some very important things about HP, its direction and strategy.
Let's look at what HP did not buy (yet). No open source platform and infrastructure (Red Hat), no open source relational data bases (Ingres), no middleware (TIBCO). No business apps (NetSuite). [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Instead HP is apparently targeting the element of IT that cuts across all growth areas: information management. Information is exploding and the places it needs to go are expanding rapidly, including all manner of mobile devices.
HP has the data center server hardware, storage and networking infrastructure to support a converged infrastructure -- from soup to nuts -- that supports information in all its forms. That is information inside of applications, databases, flat files, PCs, Tvs, smartphones, cars, refrigerators, and anything else connected and always on. These days that's just about everything.
This information is the key ingredient and life blood to business intelligence, business process management, cloud computing, integration, overall management/governance, social media and networking, and the web of sensors and embedded devices that will create even more … information.
Apple has its various business revenue lined up around consumer content, media and entertainment, and is doing quite well. HP has he opportunity to do the same to the content, media and data that under girds all business, all over the world, all the time.
We also hear that HP will spin off -- ala Agilent -- its PC business. Smart move. This is a global and vibrant business that will continue to generate nice profits on thin margins, but not the growth business HP needs to be in to prosper against IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft. They too, incidentally, know the value of having a business that earns based on the flow and ebb of data and information. But they are too relational database (RDB)-centric.
If we're in the post PC-era, and we are, we may also well be in the post-RDB era, too. And so then what's the era still going strong? Information, and how to make it strategic and managed for all aspects of business and commerce. The middle of the middle of all that grows is a good place to be. Information is the common denominator to all computing and business alignment.
We now know that HP is basing its future of the business of supporting businesses, and in working to dominate the next growth areas. Information use and management will drive the growth in hardware, networking, storage, consulting, and applications development and testing.
And, back to the future, IBM is the only other firm with a similarly full arsenal to take on this task, with Oracle as the third-place wildcard.
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