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Why big data will be a big deal for the new HP

Brandon Butler | Aug. 20, 2015
With big changes afoot at HP, big data will be a key to HP’s lofty software goals

081915 hp
Credit: Flickr: HP

When environmental group Conservation International (CI) needed to measure how much of the world’s rainforests have been chopped down, it turned to HP.

CI wanted to use satellite imagery to compare the amount of rainforest there today to images of the same areas three decades ago. HP engineers built a tool using the company’s DistributedR program that automatically scanned the images and categorized them, pixel-by-pixel to determine which areas were forested and which no longer are.

For an organization like CI – which collected more than $140 million in contributions last year – it is a classic example of an enterprise working with a big-name technology vendor.

For HP, it’s just the type of customer win the company needs. HP is soon set to embark on the biggest restructuring in its history when the company splits up this fall into two publicly traded companies. After doing so, the newly-created Hewlett Packard Enterprise will have a newfound focus on being not just a hardware company, but a software company too. And a big part of HP’s software push will be providing big data analytics. HP hopes to help a lot more customers like CI better use big data.

Big changes afoot

This fall HP is set to split up into HP Inc., which will house its person systems and printing divisions, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise where the company’s cash cow, its hardware division that sells servers, storage and networking equipment will live. There will be two other major components to HP Enterprise: Services (consulting and implementation) and Software.

Within that software division, big data, security and IT management will be the core pillars, says Robert Youngjohns, HP’s Executive Vice President and GM for the Software division, who noted that software makes up about 8 percent of company revenues, but an even higher proportion of profits. Youngjohns says HP CEO Meg Whitman is betting big that big data will help turn HP around.

HP’s big data offerings fall under the umbrella of its Haven product, which includes the company’s Hadoop distribution (which it works with partners like Hortonworks to deliver), along with Vertica (a SQL analytics platform), IDOL (for analyzing unstructured data) and HP’s Distributed R (for large-scale predictive analytics).

“What most enterprises want is to be able to apply analytics to drive better decisions based on the data they already have,” and help manage an ever-increasing inflow of new data, Youngjohns says. HP’s big data platform, which includes both structured and unstructured database options, he argues, addresses those needs.

The products within Haven are available as software downloads or available “on-demand” as versions hosted by HP or partners. They’re not yet available as a service on other cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, though.


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