HP's efforts to rest much of its restoration on cloud computing hit a major snag last week when Zorawar Biri Singh, senior vice president of converged cloud and general for cloud services, left after two years on the job.
Executive departures, especially after short tenures, can represent bad personnel alignment, missed goals or other mismatches. Singh's exit from HP is probably due to a combination of factors, although he and the company remain mute on specifics at press time.
HP has said, in a statement to one tech-focused news site, that it remains committed to its converged cloud portfolio.
"In particular, HP Cloud Services is critical to HP's efforts to deliver superior public cloud infrastructure, services and solutions to our customers. Roger Levy, vice president for technology and customer operations at HP Cloud Services, will serve as the interim leader for HP cloud services.
"The company thanks Zorawar 'Biri' Singh for his passion and commitment in driving our public cloud vision and wishes him well," the vendor was quoted as saying.
What makes Singh's departure particularly problematic, in my view, is the importance HP is placing on cloud computing for its restoration. Meg Whitman, chief executive at HP, gave cloud equal weight with security and big data as part of her efforts to stabilise and revive the trouble company.
Since Whitman outlined this three-pillar strategy, HP has hit several bumps, the largest being the financial meltdown of its Autonomy software arm. Last autumn, HP wrote off $8.8 billion (£5.6 billion), much of which was related to the $11.7 billion it paid for the big data specialist. At the same time, HP watched sales and revenue in nearly every major business unit shrink.
HP believes it can use its considerable hardware, software and professional services assets to jumpstart a cloud computing programme. Point of fact: HP is a major contributor to the foundation technology for cloud computing infrastructure among many service providers.
HP's use of cloud computing in the channel is unclear. While HP talks up cloud computing capabilities and ambitions to its channel partners, how the cloud gets translated to the channel remains, well, cloudy.
HP does much of its cloud business direct; many HP partners are developing cloud capacities, using HP products as infrastructure.
Some analysts have speculated that HP believes it can use HP services, much of which bolstered the former EDS professional services team, to break into enterprise cloud engagements. In its most recent US Securities and Exchange Commission filing, HP notes a willingness to sell off underperforming and non-strategic assets as part of its restructuring.
Reports have surfaced of several companies approaching HP about buying troubled units, including EDS and Autonomy. HP has so far reportedly baulked at those offers, saying certain assets were strategic to its long-term plans.
However, HP lacks many management and automation applications to make true end-to-end cloud computing systems. Compared to competitors, including Dell, IBM and CA, HP's cloud portfolio remains rather nascent.
All things considered, Singh's departure signals trouble in HP's cloud strategy. Chances are HP will announce a new cloud direction with promises of accelerated innovation. If that happens, it's a sign the current strategy isn't delivering.
Larry Walsh is president and chief executive officer of Channelnomics
As part of our special editorial partnership, CRN is publishing this recent article from Channelnomics.
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