HP broadens its product portfolio


22 Nov 2002

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When Hewlett-Packard (HP) is mentioned, it is printers that spring to most people’s minds and definitely not software. However, the company is now the fifth largest software provider in the world. Only Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP are in front.

HP’s involvement in the software market is less obvious simply because it specialises in backend systems management software. HP’s Adaptive Management Platform (AMP) was the big news of the conference. The company believes that the new system will enable its customers to use a variety of infrastructure resources more efficiently. Industry research shows that customers may typically only use 20 to 35pc of their available IT capacity. HP says its AMP solution will enable them to boost usage rates to 75pc.

AMP is one of the company’s big ideas. According to Nora Denzel, senior vice-president at HP’s software global business unit, the system is ‘designed to match computing supply to computing demand’. As an example, she cites a telecoms operator whose servers could be handling email during the day and billing at night.

According to Peter Blackmore (pictured), executive vice-president of HP’s enterprise systems group for EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), the company is 18 months ahead of its competition in terms of adaptive management. So, where will HP be when the competition catches up? “We can implement this now, which is a huge competitive advantage. We do have a roadmap for the product and we aim to extend AMP up to the application level. In addition, we hope to push the system out into a wider environment,” he said.

In order for adaptive management to work, HP is banking on greater standardisation within the industry. Blackmore is convinced that there is no gamble in this expectation. “Standardisation is inevitable. For us, pursuing standardisation early is a competitive advantage. It lowers costs in terms of R&D dollars,” he said.

The message from Lisbon was that HP regards itself as an infrastructure solutions company. To back this up, it can cite some impressive statistics. For example, HP powers 100 of the world’s stock and commodity markets, including the biggest. It is also responsible for 80pc of mobile billing in the European and Asian markets.

Telecoms is a big growth area for HP’s software operation and Blackmore says that mobile is where much of the action is. With the increase in data services, billing and usage information becomes more complicated to compile and the company feels it can meet that challenge. “There is lots of new services coming online at the moment and I think J-Phone in Japan is a good example of how the market may develop. However, in many ways, it is only just beginning. There are five million new mobile subscribers in China every month for example,” he said.

HP does have some distance to travel though before it becomes a market leader in the sector. According to analysts Giga, the company is regarded by the market at large as a dominant player in the network management and systems management sub-segments of the market. However, it remained a comparatively minor player in most other sub-segments. It concluded that the company would have to market its capabilities more aggressively across the whole spectrum in order to grow its market share.