Surprises Aplenty as HPE Refines Its Focus

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Meg Whitman, CEO of HPEFor me, an industry analyst, commentator and blogger focused on HPE in general, and HPE Mission Critical Systems specifically, these past couple of days have provided material to fill an entire blog. HP signaled changes coming last year when it proposed splitting into two entities, HPE and HPQ, with the former focused solely on the enterprise.

Almost at the same time, it announced that it was no longer going to pursue public clouds, leaving the provision of public clouds to some of its major partners, including Microsoft.

However, since the split was formalized late last year and the two companies, HPE and HPQ, began operating independently, the changes at HPE have continued to come thick and fast. And it’s not just services or software, but people as well.

Who could have predicted that within its first year of operations HPE would spin out its Enterprise Services (ES) group which, combined with CSC, will operate as a new company based on a 50:50 split between HPE and CSC? While the deal won’t finalize until March 2017, we are already reading that there is more to follow with the potential of software units being sold off well before that March 2017 deadline, with Vertica the center of most speculations.

When it comes to people, there was no more surprising announcement coming from Meg Whitman, CEO HPE, than that her CTO, Martin Fink, would be retiring at the end of the year at a youthful 51. This has raised many questions, but perhaps the biggest surprise is that, not only is the role of CTO going to change, there will also be changes at the venerable HP Labs.

Hewlett Packard Labs remained the central research organization for Hewlett Packard Enterprise and there had been no name change. HP Labs is going to be broken apart, with pieces being scattered among the products groups. As Whitman noted in the announcement blog post, “To further accelerate the time it takes to drive technology from research and development to commercialization, we will move Hewlett Packard Labs into the Enterprise Group.”

Nothing is as saturated with innovation history or tradition as is HP Labs – after Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) and perhaps Bell Labs in New Jersey – it was the Labs that often led the way for the former HP and to many HP insiders, even after the split, HP Labs remained the cultural heart of HP!

But the industry isn’t the same as it was a decade or so ago. It’s the user experience that is driving everything! It’s microservices, with fast time to market! It’s clouds, big data and real time data stream analytics. And it’s all because, as Whitman herself intimated, “Tomorrow belongs to the fast. Digital Transformation is fueling the idea economy … driving better business outcomes.”