Atlanta, GA. — Paula Musich reports that Carly Fiorina outlined Hewlett-Packard Co.’s vision of the digital renaissance now taking place in business and technology.
During the opening keynote here at Fall NetWorld+Interop, HP’s chairman and CEO described four factors that are behind the changes now occurring: a shifting technology landscape, new business imperatives, technology tenets of a new era and how those tenets can be addressed with systems.
She recalled that HP began to speak of e-services in June of 1999. At the time, the company said that any asset or process that could be digitized would be digitized and then delivered across the Internet. HP in its e-services vision talked about an “always on” infrastructure that was “as reliable as water” and as “pervasive as the air we breath,” she said. Such an infrastructure would provide the opportunity to serve customers, drive revenue and change the world.
Today that “digital e-services world is emerging before our eyes,” Fiorina said. For example, HP has established mobile e-services bazaars in both Finland and Singapore, and the company is delivering the first generation of mobile e-services for banking and travel, entertainment services such as sports scores, real-time news, translation services and even personal services such as mail.
She also recalled having conversations with HP customers about using e-business to create greater efficiencies. But now what customers want to talk about, she said, are “bigger things – about how technology is transforming every aspect of their business.” Technology is no longer behind the scenes, but at the center of a business transformation, she said.
“We are entering the renaissance of the e-business age,” Fiorina maintained. In that age, e-services are a set of individual services that a customer will enlist and pay for as they are used, without having to invest in and maintain an expensive infrastructure.
“Anything with a chip in it becomes a platform for new e-business opportunities,” she said. “HP’s mission is to invent useful applications” for such platforms.
The next phase of e-business will provide companies such as HP with the opportunity to “transform a customer’s experience, transform the value process and transform the industry.”
Fiorina used the food distribution process and HP’s ResourceLink project as an example of the power of technology to transform the way business works. Food distribution is “a broken process where there is excess supply and unfulfilled demand,” she said. ResourceLink automatically identifies and brokers excess food, excess distribution capability and the charities that can benefit from those assets.
HP’s three tenets The tenets guiding HP’s strategy for e-business include the idea that solutions must be engineered for an “always-on infrastructure. Downtime costs real money,” Fiorina said, citing a Lloyds of London study that found $20 billion was lost in computer outages and hacker attacks last year.
“As technology becomes more mainstream for such industries as health care, it is even more critical,” she added.
The always-on Internet infrastructure implies thorough, up-front planning, design, configuration and performance tuning; it includes the best hardware, software and storage; and it means world-class monitoring and management of a customer’s environment, she said.
The second tenet guiding HP is that open systems are the best way to go. “Technology is changing too fast. Open is key to flexibility,” Fiorina said.
The third tenet is that “our systems must anticipate and embrace technological infrastructure changes. The shift toward pervasive computing has to be natural, intuitive and paid for by usage,” she said.
“We’ve had that vision for 20 years. We bet our company on open systems – Unix – and scaleable RISC architectures. We have some experience in predicting technology shifts,” she asserted.
Fiorina described the move to open-source computing as “inevitable and natural.” Open-source initiatives are successful and already mainstream, she maintained. “We’re supporting Linux across all of our systems, software and services,” she said.
But the open-source movement goes beyond just Linux, and HP believes different operating systems are evolving to meet specific application requirements.
Matters of architecture HP also believes the next shifts will include a move to Intel Corp.’s IA-64 hardware architecture. “It was created for dynamic transactions and designed for rich media processing,” she said, predicting it will become an industry standard.
EPIC – for explicit parallel structured computing – is at the heart of HP’s architecture. In describing the company’s road map toward that future, Fiorina said the next HP processor – the PA8700 – is due out next year and will be the fastest processor available. And the PA8800 and PA8900 are already on the drawing boards.
Another major architectural shift at hand is toward services-based computing, which Fiorina defined as a loose coupling of processor cycles, storage and I/O with financial, entertainment and other business services. Examples include the mobile e-services being delivered in Europe and the creation of virtual supercomputers using the excess computing capacity of corporate desktop PCs that go unused at night.
To back up its vision, HP has recently been in the news on both the services and hardware fronts. Fiorina acknowledged HP’s talks with PricewaterhouseCoopers to acquire its worldwide consulting practice.
“There is a sea change in how systems vendors and consultants go to market together,” she said. “We need an acquisition of a premier consulting company.”
On the hardware front, HP’s new Superdome high-end server line takes a radically different approach in architecture and in how HP is delivering and pricing it. Superdome is delivered via a utility-based pricing model, like phone or electrical service.
“It’s a new and different game,” she said. And alluding to HP’s current “garage” commercial evoking the company’s roots, she added, “It would be a good time to stay tuned.”