Riverbed Technology's Chief Exec Jerry Kennelly commented recently in a WSJ article that 'The push by technology giants to become everything to everyone in the IT world is a "fool's errand".
The reporter Roger Cheung uses the examples of Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems to illustrate companies that are turning themselves into one-stop shops for technology; where as Riverbed are not concerned with the services themselves - but act however as a 'rocket booster', ensuring that services zip along at a rapid clip.
I have two issues with this characterization. First, Mr. Cheung misses the point that the specialized best-in-breed approach is really the only option open for a company such as Riverbed. There will always be room for specialized vendors that often lead the industry with breakthrough technologies and capabilities. However, there are also many companies that prefer to buy and work with single large vendors to reduce risk, gain efficiencies, and simplify their infrastructure.
The second problem is to characterize HP and Cisco in the same breath. HP has always focused on building the best infrastructure for running business-critical applications. We have acquired a variety of companies in that arena with a goal of continually improving the experience for IT and the ability to drive better business outcomes. However, HP partners phenomenally well, as the CEO of Riverbed should well know. Riverbed, among other companies providing network infrastructure and applications, is a key partner in the ProCurve ONE alliance program and is brought in by HP in many situations due to their capabilities. Where other vendors may choose to compete to "be everything to everyone," HP understands what we do well and where we want to leverage our expertise.
Mr. Cheung and Mr. Kennelly are clearly looking to generate some controversy. Looking to HP as an example is a "fool's errand" given our commitment to partnering and our long history of delivering value to customers.