Server buyers won't ding HP for Hurd's transgressions

HP customers are unfazed by the resignation of Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd. But data center managers say that some vendor CEOs can make a difference.

Data center managers say that the resignation of HP CEO Mark Hurd will not impact their decision to purchase servers from Hewlett-Packard one way or the other.

Per the request of the board, Hurd resigned from Hewlett-Packard Co. on Friday afternoon amid allegations of sexual harrassment of an HP employee. The company named CFO Cathie Lesjakas as the interim CEO and has begun to search for a replacement while it tries to calm investors, whose reaction to the news sparked a decrease in HP stock value of more than 5% over the weekend.

But for HP data center customers, it's business as usual. "I know companies talk a lot about their public-facing side, but it doesn't affect the technology decisions we're making about the products they're putting out," said Kent Altena, technical engineer at FBL Insurance in West Des Moines, Iowa, and an HP customer. "The likelihood that we would join a boycott of HP products based on the personal antics of their CEO is pretty low," he said.

"I don't pay much attention to that sort of thing," echoed Stu Radnidge, a virtualization architect at a worldwide financial services company that runs thousands of HP blade servers. And if his company were to stop buying server hardware from HP as a result of Hurd's indiscretions, that decision would be made at a level far above him.

When CEOs matter
That's not to say that leadership doesn't play into data center buying decisions, however. While the Hurd resignation hasn't resonated with IT managers, some say C-level vendor execs have affected their jobs.

"I don't see this instance directly impacting me anytime soon since a CEO job is mostly focused on industry politics and pleasing Wall Street, but CEO decisions can have huge ramifications, like HP's infamous merger with Compaq showed," said data center manager Mark Holt. "That was the brainchild of the last CEO and was such a logistical nightmare that many, many managers gave up on HP systems and went to competitors who could actually deliver the goods."

"I guess the impact of a new CEO depends on how much influence a CEO has on corporate culture, said Robert Crawford, a Texas-based mainframe system programmer."Computer Associates [CA] changed quite a bit after their CEO went to jail; CA is no longer the poison vendor, even though the image lingers."

And a change of leadership could do some companies' business good, such as IBM's. "A new CEO would not have much impact on my job if he or she continued IBM's 'cornhole the mainframe customer' policy. But a CEO inclined to relax the hard line would make a big change for me and my company," Crawford said.

Ironically, IBM's Michael E. Daniels, a senior vice president and group executive in the services organization, is among the names listed by the Wall Street Journal as a replacement for Hurd. If that comes to pass, let's hope he doesn't decide to cornhole HP customers too.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Alex Barrett, News Director at, or follow @aebarrett on twitter. Matt Stansberry contributed to this story.

Check out our blogs: Data Center Facilities Pro, Mainframe Propeller Head, and Server Farming.

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