A few drops of blood in the water can attract sharks from miles away. And in the aftermath of Oracle picking off business intelligence (BI) vendor Hyperion and SAP swallowing Pilot Software, Hewlett-Packard – the world’s biggest IT company – does not want to be excluded from the BI feast.
Historically, BI has played no part in HP’s software strategy. But that changed with the arrival of Mark Hurd as CEO a year and a half ago. Hurd, who had earlier run NCR’s Teradata data warehousing group, was quick to recruit the former CIO of both Wal-Mart and Dell, Randy Mott, and set in motion efforts to build an HP data warehousing appliance.
The resulting product, Neoview, was launched in January and draws heavily on the company’s Tandem heritage, especially the disk elements of its NonStop fault-tolerant server and the NonStopSQL relational database.
And having made its initial move into BI with a back-end engine, HP now looks keen to play in the front-end too. The first step was the acquisition of BI services company, Knightsbridge Solutions, a 700-person US and UK-centred services company that specialises in BI, data warehousing, data integration and information quality.
The Neoview BI portfolio is being built alongside the company’s second software pillar, HP OpenView, the systems and application management unit that has grown to annual revenues of around $2 billion through last year’s acquisition of Mercury Interactive.
There are suggestions that HP will follow the same pattern with its BI division. “Expect the play book to look similar” to HP’s OpenView strategy, says David Gee, global vice president for marketing at HP Software – and that would mean a major acquisition that would supplement HP’s own in-house development.
Such a move would, of course, have to be handled carefully. By extending its software ambitions, HP risks alienating some of its most important partners while giving customers confusing messages, says Peter O’Neill, analyst at Forrester Research. “Many of [its] partners now face competition from HP Software itself, and customers are quite confused about what products [its own or others’] HP recommends.”