Talking at the HP Software Universe show and conference in Vienna, Tom Hogan, senior vice president for software at HP, said the company had taken time to weigh up the promise of cloud computing, which provides web-based access to remote enterprise applications and storage.
"Rather than jump in to the hype [around cloud computing] out of the gate — you can't pick up a newspaper or a technology magazine today without reading about the cloud — we have been very deliberate over the past nine months, assessing where we think the cloud can help us", Hogan said.
The result of that period of assessment, Hogan told ZDNet UK, was the conclusion that "just like a lot of things in technology, the cloud will not be a panacea".
Several major technology companies have announced cloud-computing moves recently. These include Microsoft, which launched Azure, a cloud extension to its Windows franchise, Salesforce.com, Amazon and Google.
Hogan said that there will be a place for the cloud. Customers will be able to have a channel strategy for services, somewhat like the channel strategy they have for sales and marketing, he said.
According to Hogan, that means there will be three operations approaches open to enterprises: traditional in-house; outsourced; and in the cloud. "You have a host of applications that you will want to run on-premise in the traditional manner; there will be services for outsourcing (for which we have EDS); and there will be an emerging new paradigm that will aim to capitalize on the cloud," he said.
Within that context, the cloud is important, and HP has the tools to exploit it, Hogan said. "We think that HP has more capability in fulfilling the promise for the enterprise cloud, which is a heritage strength for HP," he said.
HP is especially well-equipped to do this, as its EDS business group can provide the processes needed for the cloud model, Hogan said. The company acquired EDS for $13.9bn (£9.37bn) in May, adding EDS's computer-services expertise to its portfolio. Hogan's skepticism about the hype was echoed by other executives at the conference. "A lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon of cloud, but I have not heard two people say the same thing about it," said Andy Isherwood, HP's vice president for software services in Europe. "There are multiple definitions out there of 'the cloud'."
According to Isherwood, HP prefers to talk about the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Isherwood told ZDNet UK: "Customers say: 'We want solutions from you that we can buy and implement quickly. And we want to do that without investing a lot of our capital in people, equipment and software. We buy SaaS and, if it works: great. We will keep it.'"
HP has become the 10th largest company in the global SaaS market, according to Isherwood.