Fiorina puts her stamp on HP

Calls Java-based 'e-speak' a breakthrough

Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina this week committed to helping deliver personally a new HP to developers attending the company's first ever e-services developers conference in San Jose, California.

Fiorina spoke for about 10 minutes on Wednesday to a packed ballroom in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, but took no questions. Instead, she was hustled offstage and out of the room immediately after her speech.

But in that short amount of time, Fiorina managed to tell developers that she asked to speak at the conference because she thinks HP's e-speak technology is critical to the company's future. E-speak, HP's Java- and XML-based architecture, allows people to broker services over the Internet. A service can carry out any number of tasks, from making travel reservations to finding documents.

Believe it "E-speak is a real HP breakthrough," Fiorina said. "When I first came to the company I didn't believe it, because I came from the communications industry, which has been struggling for many years with the problems e-speak promises to solve. But I asked to see it, and it is real. I have come to believe it is a technology that can change the world."

Fiorina said e-speak will open vast, untapped markets for HP by creating a universal business language for a "utility-like infrastructure" that will be as ubiquitous as electricity or the dial tone. She said HP is a true open-systems company that understands partnerships, and she promised developers a clear understanding of where HP is going. Fiorina also promised to personally examine the top five ideas for e-speak submitted this month by developers.

HP will offer e-speak under an open-source license on 8 December and expects to make money along with its developers by creating e-speak services.

Fiorina's HP also is seeking to mend fences with Sun Microsystems on Java, which may be essential if the e-speak push is to succeed. Although e-speak is language-neutral, it is currently written in Java. Mending fences may not be easy. HP in 1997 licensed its Chai embedded Java clone to Microsoft and has subsequently been fighting a subpoena by Sun in US District Court.

However, HP in late summer hired a Java program director from IBM -- Dana Marks -- and plans a very large booth at the Java Internet Business Expo in New York next month. Marks said his first task is to pull together the various Java efforts inside HP and "get HP on the map" for Java computing. "It's a well-kept secret that HP delivered the JDK 1.2.2 ahead of Sun and IBM and has an excellent Java Virtual Machine on Windows 98," Marks said.

Resellers will not be left out. HP is paying resellers who expand their businesses based on HP products or find new business for HP. Partners who turn up new HP hardware business in mid-market companies (under $2bn, or £1.2bn in revenue) focused on e-services receive three percent of the hardware's list price. It is not necessary to execute the transaction to receive the cash.

In addition, HP is tying market development funds for resellers to the volumes of HP products they sell and is offering rebates to those who grow their businesses based on HP. The programs currently cover only HP 9000 servers, e-storage products, OpenView and support in North America. But they may include Intel servers in the future as HP digests its latest reorganisation, which placed computer products under group president Duane Zitzner.

Partners and HP district sales managers, which HP now refers to as "off-payroll" and "on-payroll" sales forces, are encouraged to work closely together to make sure there are no gaps, says channel marketing director Leon Kessler.

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