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Meg Whitman tells IT leaders everything they need to know about HP Enterprise

John Gallant | April 7, 2016
In this installment of the IDG CEO Interview Series, we asked Whitman to talk directly to IT leaders about what the company split means for them as customers, and how HP Enterprise's new innovation agenda will help them transition to private and hybrid cloud.

But we can't buy all these companies. First of all, there's too many of them. And in security, by adopting companies to integrate into our solution, if another one comes along that is better for our customers, we move to that one and we're not stuck having paid $200 or $300 million for a company. It's a different operating model for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, it's a big cultural change for the company, because we are used to selling only what we own, for the most part.

In the past in talking to HP executives like Mark Hurd or Leo Apotheker, we often heard that HP needed to become more of a software company. What is the software strategy today? Help customers understand how that strategy has evolved and what you're going to focus on.

I would make a differentiation between what I would call application software and system software. As you well know, we have always been a huge player in system software because our infrastructure does not run without that software. We will continue to lead in the system software area. And then, my predecessors actually made a number of bets in big data, with products like Vertica, in orchestration and automation software like ITOM and ABM, which is actually quite close to our hardware offerings, as well as our employee productivity software and things like that.

So we like the application software business. We're going to continue to invest in that business. But when people say we're not a software company... Actually, we are. I think we have about $3.8 billion worth of software products, which would make us the fourth or fifth largest software company in the world. And then when you think about Aruba, Aruba is actually a software company as well. What runs these Aruba beacons is software. But I would say it's a bit more like system software per se than application software.

Another way to look at this is, I guess, is what won't you do in software?

So we won't do ERP. We're not going to go buy Salesforce or Workday or any of those kinds of things. I think we will stick to our orchestration, automation, application lifecycle business, our security business and our big data business, but we will not be in the ERP business per se.

I also wanted to ask you about an area that's really building up steam: Cognitive computing. IBM is certainly staking a strong claim to leadership there around Watson. What is HP's strategy when it comes to cognitive computing?

Cognitive computing for now lives in a couple of different areas. First is, you can think of IDOL and Vertica as cognitive computing. Vertica has in its customer list some of the most forward-looking companies. Facebook, Uber, Airbnb are all Vertica users and basically what they are doing is cognitive computing. They're ingesting machine data, they're ingesting user data to basically gain insight around what's happening to their market and what their customers are doing.


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