Despite spin-off talk, Air Force picks HP

Hewlett-Packard says it is ensuring customers such as the Air Force of support regardless of possibly selling off its Personal Systems Group

Even though Hewlett-Packard is considering spinning off or selling its Personal Systems Group, it's still business as usual for one of its larger customers, the U.S. Air Force.

HP announced Monday that the Air Force has selected it to provide some new some new workstations, including the HP Z800, which uses Xeon processors, up to 192 GB of ECC memory and as much as 10 terabytes of storage.

The Air Force last year approved a five-year purchase agreement with HP that could be worth as much as $800 million. The agreement, announced Monday but signed July 1, allows the Air Force to purchase specific products under purchase agreement, including its latest workstations.

HP has been a longtime vendor to the Air Force, and says it has bought over 900,000 units of its various products in the last five years.

HP announced earlier this month that it was exploring "a full or partial separation" of its Personal Systems Group, either through a spin-off or "other transaction." HP recently killed off its Touchpad tablet after poor sales.

The company has been speaking to customers about the plans, reaching out "to ensure them of our commitment and support," said Jim Christensen, Director of Media Relations for HP's Personal Systems Group. "We absolutely stand by our products and the Air Force can continue to buy with confidence."

Ray Bjorklund, an analyst at FedSources, said he didn't see HP's spin-off plans as having much impact on government buying decisions. He said the government has experience in navigating industry shifts, much like it did when HP bought Compaq.

"There is continuity here," Bjorklund said. "It's not like this becomes a radical upset of the whole selling channels."

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at  @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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