HP does Groundhog Day in Spain

HP Software Universe: The keynote address talked up the company's Adaptive Enterprise strategy, but some conference delegates said they'd heard it all before

At Tuesday's opening keynote at the HP Software Universe conference in Madrid, HP executives spoke of their excitement that the Adaptive Enterprise dream appeared to be coming true.

Cesare Capobianco, the vice-president and general manager of HP EMEA, spoke about HP's recent financial results, which showed a 33 percent growth rate for HP's EMEA software industry from 2003 to 2004, and about the conference turnout which had 2900 delegates, 900 more than originally expected.

"You're joining us at a very exciting time for HP software and HP overall," said Capobianco.

Nora Denzel, the senior vice-president and general manager of the Adaptive Enterprise business, said that this was the year in which HP had delivered on the promises it had made over the last two years.

She spoke of the shift in technology from a physical and static environment to a digital, mobile, virtual world. She pointed to the analogy of camera technology which has switched from taking pictures that need to be developed, to digital pictures that can be sent around the world in an instant.

"Parking tickets, speeding tickets, processes to take census counts… Every process is shifting," added Denzel.

Nowadays the focus of the majority of CIOs is how fast they can adapt to change, according to Denzel.

"20 or 30 years ago CIOs were all measured on maximising return, mitigating risk and improving performance," said Denzel. "Now they will be judged on agility -- how fast can they respond to changes?"

She said that grid computing, the dynamic allocation of resources, dramatically affects how companies need to manage their applications.

"Grid does to applications what Internet did to communications," said Denzel.

"Sometimes they [journalists] get enamoured with grid computing and utility computing; we believe it will be about simplification, standardisation, modularity, integration," said Denzel. "This is the real deal. This is what's going on in data centres around the world."

Denzel spoke of the need for business automation so that companies can switch from maintaining their infrastructure and systems to innovating. In 2003, after HP merged with Compaq, it found that it was spending 72 percent of its resources on maintenance and only 28 percent on innovation. By 2006, HP hopes to flip this ratio, so that it only spends 45 percent of its resources on maintenance.

Some conference delegates seemed to find little that was new in HP's message. Steve Cousins, an enterprise sales specialist at Computacentre, one of the largest HP resellers in the UK, said the speech trod on familiar ground.

"It's the same Adaptive Enterprise," said Cousins. "We know all this. We hear this all the time. Because I'm in the HP channel there's nothing new, but for customers it could be new."

Mark Healey, a project manager at GCHQ, which is one of HP's preference customers for the public sector agreed that there was little new, but was happy that HP was continuing with the strategy as his organisation has implemented HP's OpenView.

"I didn't learn an awful lot new from it," said Healey, "but I'm content that there is a continuous strategy."

Stanislav Georgiev, the chief IT architect at Bulgarian telco MobilTel EAD, agreed there was little new in the speech, but said that it was the first time that he had heard HP emphasise a modular approach to IT systems.