HP Enterprise to focus on agility, efficiency after split

HP will soon be split into two, with an enterprise business that IT pros expect will deliver faster to catch up in the quickly changing IT market.

LAS VEGAS -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise, half of the soon-to-be split tech giant HP, will have a simpler structure and a more focused portfolio that IT pros hope will live up to the promises made by the company's executives.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) will focus on software, services, and hardware for enterprise users, led by CEO Meg Whitman as president and CEO after the split is completed on November 1, 2015. HP Inc. will focus on the business and consumer markets, selling laptops and printers. Whitman will be chairman, and it will be run by Dion Weisler, currently executive vice president of the company's printing and personal systems business unit.

"We're confident that [the split] will give you a new level of focus, agility and efficiency," Whitman told attendees here at HP Discover 2015 this week.

HPE will focus on four new areas: migrating to a hybrid cloud infrastructure, protecting digital assets, empowering data driven organizations and enabling workplace productivity.

"HP Enterprise will be much more than an enterprise business with a new name," Whitman said, adding that it will help the company's customers support traditional IT infrastructure and also transition to an agile, secure, cloud-enabled mobile-ready future.

"HP Enterprise has the power to help you deal with a constantly shifting landscape," Whitman said.

Whitman used the example of Uber -- the car sharing service -- and its impact on taxi usage. In San Francisco, for example, she said taxi usage has dropped 65% in the past two years. Uber, which was founded in 2009, did not invent new technology but instead took advantage in the explosion of mobile apps and smartphones.

"The taxi industry was still operating using CB radios," she said.

After the keynote address, when asked whether the new HPE is the IT equivalent to Uber or taxi companies fighting for survival against Uber, Mike Nefkens, executive vice president of enterprise services, said it is both.

"We've listened to our customers and that is why we are splitting," Nefkens said. HPE will be more proactive and work closer with its customers; it will not wait for requests for proposals to fall in its lap, he said.

"A lot of our customers are already feeling the change," he said.

Justin Laboom, an infrastructure architect at Eaton Corp. in the Pittsburg area, said he did not hear as many details about the two new companies as he had hoped.

"They are still saying that they are still focused on transforming to a new orchestrated IT -- you hear that a lot," Laboom said. "They are behind in the marketplace already and they are going to be playing catch-up with others."

HP's representatives spoke plenty about cloud and orchestration, but provided few details about new hardware, such as converged infrastructure, he said. However, Laboom does not expect any issue with HPE after the split.

Paul Cummings, a HP customer who is vice president of product development at Healthways Inc., in Franklin, Tenn, believes the plan outlined by Whitman is "on target."

"Those are the key priorities for our organization, so it resonated," Cummings said.

Cummings said he does not expect any major problems with the company's split and expects the same scope of services and quality of service.

"We don't know what we don't know but we are treating it as a non-event," he said.

Craig Gleason, who is involved in infrastructure operations at a healthcare provider, said he is happy with the direction HP is headed with its storage and server business.

He called HP's $2.7 billion purchase of Aruba Networks, which was finalized last week, "a good fit and a good addition to the portfolio."

Like other IT pros here, Gleason said he does not have any major concerns about support following HP's split.

Robert Gates covers data centers, data center strategies, server technologies, converged and hyperconverged infrastructure and open source operating systems for SearchDataCenter. Follow him @RBGatesTT

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