We'll take a leap into the language today to examine where HP's 2010 investment can go to best help its classic customers. That would you, our readers, companies who have built IT around HP's unique products like the HP 3000 -- as well as the migration sites choosing HP's Unix as a target in 2010 and later years.
Hewlett-Packard was built upon a credo of Invent It Here. During the 1980s and early '90s the Not Invented Here (NIH) prejudice kept the company apart from mainstream partners as well as powerful solutions built by independents. A small company would create a software product, and then HP would offer its own, less-worthy solution to compete. NIH was a protection plan for HP hegemony.
Now with a new decade upon us all, community members are looking at the opposite of NIH at HP: the shopping-happy corporation tossing around its No. 1 revenues to acquire. Today Nina Buik, who headed up user group Encompass and then Connect for several years, said in a Twitter tweet, "I wonder who is on HP's acquisition radar in 2010?"
Community members in Encompass should care where HP spends its revenues, since so many of the user group members use HP's unique products like HP-UX, VMS and NonStop systems. HP 3000 sites are only picking only one of those as an IT alternative. But HP's penchant for purchasing instead of developing unique products have a dim future. Let's call them Identity Solutions to keep track of their special value to you and HP's legacy.
One former HP executive has worried about HP's drop in R&D during the decade we just exited. Chuck House, who just released an HP history, bemoaned the rush to acquire that seemed to ramp up during Carly Fiorina's CEO reign. The crowning of Mark Hurd hasn't changed things. HP buys when it used to build, a symptom of Number One-itis.
I answered Buik's query with a suggestion of where HP seems headed, however adrift for its identity solutions users. On 2010's acquisition radar for HP: Just look for holes in HP's solutions where R&D is essential, costly, or long-term. As I've said, echoing House, HP is swapping M&A spending for R&D investments.
There are places to spend on behalf of a 3000 site that's invested in HP-UX. Mike Hornsby, who leads the Beechglen support provider serving both 3000s and 9000s, wondered about what the end might look like whenever it arrives for HP's Unix.
How do you think the former HP 3000 customers who invested in HP-UX/PA-RISC and Itanium systems are going to react to the end-of-life announcement for HP-UX? Just like MPE, I think it will come sooner than anyone thinks.
With Oracle taking over Sun, it is a sure bet that they will see the HP-UX systems as a target market. With SAP partnering with Microsoft, it is a sure bet that they will see the HP-UX systems as a target market. Both of these [solutions] put together make up a very significant part of the current HP-UX installed base.
Buik agrees that internally-developed solutions are business-critical to HP's reputation. "Without a return to some sort of organic growth and development, overall identity (internal and external) is at risk," she replied.
Hewlett-Packard ought to be looking toward its investment in Itanium in particular. This is an Identity Solution at the root level. Itanium powers all three of those HP unique environments. HP-UX runs on nothing else, except the other HP Identity Solution: PA-RISC, which powers the 3000s still running today.
The future of Itanium took more hits last year when Intel started putting "reliablity, availability and serviceability features of Itanium" on its industry-standard Xeon chips. Unisys, one of the few systems makers still supporting Itanium, began to question if the processor has a future.
And if you're into some rumor-ography, the Web site The Register reported late last month that Red Hat Linux has seen its last version that will support Itanium. The Register, often spot-on with its reports, quotes Red Hat statements that Red Hat Linux V5 is the end of the line for Itanium enhancements.
HP could step up and acquire applications that support Itanium as a way of investing in Identity Solutions. It could also make a stand and bolster its non-Industry Standard Server business instead of just following the critical mass. It's questionable how much help something like buying 3Com is going to be for a migrated HP customer -- especially those who have not chosen Windows or Linux running on HP servers.