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Q&A with Léo Apotheker

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HP CEO Léo Apotheker has talked to customers, media, investors, and employees around the world since announcing his plans to reposition HP’s business for the future.


We had a moment to follow up with him today and discussed the technological trends driving his thinking, HP’s Imaging and Printing Group, and the relationship between hardware and software.


Tell us about one of the market forces driving these decisions, and how they relate to HP’s proposal to acquire Autonomy

The majority of data being created today is “unstructured”.  This means the  information is not naturally found in the rows and columns of a database but in more human friendly items such as documents, Web pages, presentations, videos, phone conversations, emails and IMs.  That makes it difficult to analyze, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable.  Quite the contrary.


Customers see tremendous value in the ability to make sense of this data.  And HP has an opportunity to lead in this area, transform unstructured information into meaningful insights and deliver it to customers better than anyone else.


This kind of “information and document management” opportunity with Autonomy seems like it would relate to the imaging and printing business

Yes, that is true.  IPG is the market-defining player in printing and content digitization and would be able to do some amazing things with Autonomy’s technology.


And let me say this: VJ and his team are tremendous innovators who have built one of HP’s most profitable businesses from the consumer to the enterprise – full stop.  IPG is an integral part of our future and we will continue to invest to profitably grow IPG.


So it’s fair to say that hardware businesses are still core to HP’s future?

Absolutely.  We’ll continue to develop and market the powerful hardware, software, and services that we have.  We are embracing the hardware business and building on it.


We are getting much more deeply into the business of combining our discrete technologies into solutions.  Hardware is critical to that vision.

Take the “unstructured data” example I just spoke about.  People are calling this “big data,” because there’s a huge quantity of it.  Well, all that data has to be captured. It has to be processed.  It has to be shared. Storage.  Servers.  Networking.  Printing.


After we closed the Vertica acquisition this year, we were in the market with an integrated hardware/software appliance in a matter of days.  That is the kind of solution and speed-to-market customers want and which HP can deliver better than anyone else.


You need hardware to run software and there’s fantastic opportunity for innovation and profitable growth in both areas.  This is accelerated when they are combined.

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Leo Apotheker talks to Fortune about HP's tablet strategy and the networking business [VIDEO]

Earlier this week, HP CEO Leo Apotheker sat down with Fortune's Adam Lashinsky to talk tech.  Topics included:

- HP's differentiated approach to tablets

- How the strength of HP's sales channel will impact the webOS developer ecosystem

- Competing with Cisco (in the server market, Leo says, "We don't see them...they see us much more in the networking side of the house")

- How business success affects employee morale

Watch the two-part video interview below and follow Adam on Twitter @adamlashinsky (follow HP @hpnews).


Update: full transcript of the interview available here)





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Léo Apotheker on servers in the age of the cloud: thoughts from the OnDemand conference

HP CEO Léo Apotheker HP Summit 2011


Earlier this week, veteran Silicon Valley media entrepreneur Tony Perkins took the stage to interview HP CEO Léo Apotheker at the OnDemand conference, hosted at HP headquarters in Palo Alto.  With over 70 venture-backed CEO’s in the audience, it was a typical Valley scene full of enthusiastic hallway conversations and bright ideas.

After recounting Léo’s career path prior to HP, Perkins focused on the company’s recently announced cloud computing strategy, asking if the market trend towards cloud computing threatens to “cannibalize” HP’s market-leading server business.

This line of thinking assumes that if more enterprise companies purchase IT as a service via the Internet, total demand for servers will stop growing. Servers were a ~$48 billion market in 2010.

Léo responded that for HP the important macro trend is overall demand for servers continues to grow.  Whether a server is in an enterprise client’s data center or the data center of a cloud service provider, it’s still a good market for HP.  “We’re just moving the revenue stream,” he said, adding that HP already counts seven of the world’s ten largest cloud service providers as customers.

What’s more, the proliferation of mobile devices is playing a complementary role.  The more people shift their IT consumption to cloud services accessed on mobile devices, “the more servers you need,” he said.

These very market dynamics were addressed head-on during HP’s March 14 strategy summit, where Léo and his senior leadership team publicly explained how HP’s core businesses provide the foundation to lead the two biggest technology trends of our time: cloud and connectivity.

By combining that core business foundation, the HP CloudSystem already shipping, a new suite of technologies delivered as a service, and connected mobile devices running webOS, HP’s portfolio would encompass the complete scope of what HP Chief Strategy & Technology Officer Shane Robison called the “cloud stack” – an integrated technology architecture for supporting today’s explosion of data and connectivity.

For more on HP’s Strategy Summit, watch Léo’s keynote here or the full event replay here.

For related HP Labs research on exascale datacenter architecture, read “HP nanotechnology research looks to sustain HP server market leadership for the long run.”

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