HP desktop changes rile data center pros

Some IT pros fear an HP without PCs could disrupt their data centers.

Hewlett-Packard Co.’s plan formassive transformation, which nixed tablets and may ditch HP’s $40-billion-a-year PC business, did not faze all IT pros. But some were pretty shaken up.

The biggest impact, if HP does spin off or sell its Personal Systems Group (PSG), will be felt in the largest HP-oriented shops—those that source more than one type of technology from HP, IT pros said.

“If you are a data center guy tasked with managing desktops --  which is a data center function -- you care [about this],” said Bill Kleyman, virtualization architect with MTM Technologies Inc. and a former IT director. “You have a team of people used to working with desktop technology who now have to step back and evaluate: ‘We’ve got this type of management software, this type of infrastructure and these validated designs working on HP desktop hardware, and now what?”

For example, there are not a lot of desktop-validated designs around such applications as SolidWorks, a CAD/CAM application, Kleyman noted. HP desktops are SolidWorks validated, Kleyman said.

Many midmarket data center customers do like to source PCs and servers from the same vendor, said an HP partner. But his view may be skewed by the fact that his company is the customer-facing organization for these customers, and his company is, of course, an HP partner. There is no way an HP spin-off of desktops is good for him.

But many others said this attempted repositioning of HP to be an enterprise software and cloud provider is mostly a distraction. The fact is, several customers said HP was so huge that its various divisions already acted with autonomy. “The HP server guys didn’t try to sell HP desktops or laptops or printers—no matter what the bosses in Palo Alto were yelling,” said one long-time corporate customer who bought HP servers, but not much else from the company.

Right now, if a company buys servers, desktops or laptops from HP, “it’s already like dealing with two companies, because the sales force and channel models are different,” said the CTO of a large financial services firm. He said the same holds true with Dell, which is really the only other major hardware vendor that still sells both servers and desktops.

But there is some concern that HP’s decision to spin off its huge PC business, which last year netted more than $40 billion, could affect the company’s server line. Former HP CEO Mark Hurd used to say that one reason to keep the low-margin PC business in-house was because of the buying power that unit afforded the rest of HP. HP could get the best chips and components at the best price because of that PC buying power, he said.

It’s unclear what has changed since then, although IDC analyst Jed Scaramella noted that a PC-less HP still sells 700,000 servers per quarter. “They might have to tweak their supply chain story, but with servers, HP remains Intel’s biggest chip customer, even though it may no longer be Intel’s best chip customer across product lines.”

Let us know what you think about the story; email Barbara Darrow, Senior News Director at bdarrow@techtarget.com, or follow us on twitter.

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