HP forms BI, information management unit

Flagship product will be internally developed data warehouse

Hewlett-Packard Co. announced today the formation of a new business unit in its software division to go after the business intelligence and information management markets.

HP's new Business Information Optimization unit's flagship product will be internally developed data warehousing technology, said Ben Barnes, the newly appointed vice president and general manager of the BI group.

Previously, Barnes was CEO for ActivIdentity Inc., an IT security vendor, and Intraspect Software, a collaboration and content management company. He also was general manager of IBM's global business intelligence solutions division, and was general manager for marketing at Teradata.

In addition to BI, the new unit will include an information management focus, with an emphasis on data archiving and data management.

HP began in October to ship its new data warehousing technology, NeoView. NeoView is made up of an HP fault-tolerant server and storage and database software, said John Miller, director of NeoView marketing at HP. It was developed to be used as part of an ongoing internal HP effort to consolidate more than 700 data marts into an enterprise data warehouse. Officials on Tuesday declined to name what companies other than HP itself are using NeoView.

NeoView is not only "a large, very scalable, very-high-performance data warehouse," said Barnes, noting that it also has "a very exciting price that puts it in the marketplace of some of the data warehousing appliance vendors."

Data warehouse appliances are dedicated devices that include varying combinations of high-performance hardware with database, storage and other types of software. They are usually preconfigured for specific tasks, such as strategic analysis.

Tapping the BI and information management market will allow HP to boost revenue by expanding its foothold in existing accounts, Barnes added.

"Often when you are [with a client] talking about how to leverage the information an organization has, it becomes a very strategic decision and one that can help HP move up the food chain in many accounts," Barnes said.

HP declined to provide additional details about its BI and information management product or strategy plans, noting that it will be providing more details in the coming months. HP said it plans to hire someone to head the information management part of the new unit in the coming weeks.

Henry Morris, an analyst at market research firm IDC, said that despite not having a business unit specifically focused on BI, HP has been in the BI business by providing the servers used to build and run data warehouses. Unless HP moves to buy a reporting tools vendor, it will probably continue to rely on BI partners like Cognos Corp., Business Objects SA, SAS Institute Inc. and Hyperion Solutions Corp. for the BI tools used for reporting and analysis, he added.

"In terms of the overall solution for BI, there is much more to be gained in terms of overall revenue from services," he said. "Generally speaking, for every BI project, services are the most expensive because expertise is in short supply."

HP announced earlier this month that it had acquired Knightsbridge Solutions Holding Corp., a BI and data warehouse services company.

This is not the first foray into BI for HP chairman and CEO Mark Hurd, who came to HP from NCR Corp., which under his watch operated data warehousing vendor Teradata. NCR announced plans last week to spin off Teradata as an independent entity. 

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