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HP's Hurd pledges support for Itanium

He also offered a look at the company's technology plans

October 18, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - ORLANDO -- Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Mark Hurd today said that his company will "double down" its commitment to its server storage management software businesses, and he offered up a long-range vision of IT that includes automated data centers.
Fielding questions from Gartner Inc. analysts at the research firm's ITxpo here, Hurd also said the company is committed to its use of the Itanium chip it co-developed with Intel Corp., which is also stepping up its investment in the processor.
"If you buy from HP -- from an Itanium perspective -- you have my commitment for support," he said. Itanium is facing competition from x86 64-bit chips, as well as an ongoing push by enterprise rivals such as IBM with its Power chips and Sun Microsystems with its UltraSparc processors. In total, 75,000 servers with Itanium processors have shipped worldwide since the end of June, with HP accounting for two-thirds of those shipments, according to research firm IDC.
Today's presentation was Hurd's most expansive yet on HP's technology direction since he became CEO in March (see "Update: Hurd promises 'execution-oriented culture' at HP"). HP executives at the company's Technology Forum, which is also taking place in Orlando, said yesterday that HP would be focusing on its core products lines and wouldn't spin off any divisions.
Hurd said he is committed to HP's adaptive enterprise framework, developed by his predecessor, Carly Fiorina. But he was critical of the management structure that grew during her nearly six-year tenure.
It was a management process that "at its lunatic conclusion" had the CEO acting as a tie-breaker in pricing disagreements between the product group and a customer-facing group, said Hurd. "After careful analysis, I determined it was a bad model," he said, to audience chuckles.
Instead, Hurd outlined a more decentralized decision-making process that gives more "ownership" to those at the point of customer contact.
In regard to the company's adaptive enterprise efforts, Hurd said, "We have to make sure that we can show up with products that are deliverable against that framework, and I think we can do a better job with that."
Among those who attended Hurd's talk was Mark Shozda, senior vice president and CIO at PNC Advisors, which is part of Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group Inc. "I thought he was broad and general. Maybe some more specifics would have been good," he said.
But a key take-away for Rick Schwartz, CIO at HarperCollins Publishers in New York, was Hurd's approach to services. "The most significant thing he said is he is not going to compete at the high end

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