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HP's new 'personal cloud' combines work and life

Patrick Thibodeau | March 15, 2011
Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker is taking cloud computing to the forefront of HP's strategy, a move that reshapes how the company will serve its consumer and enterprise customers.

But an app store will provide business users with access to small application developers who might otherwise have trouble scaling to the needs of an enterprise, said Enderle. In this case, "HP services can be wrapped around them and they can be made enterprise ready -- that's how I suspect it will work," he said.

Building an application market shouldn't be a problem for HP, which can offer consumer and enterprise application developers access to its enormous customer base. HP previously announced plans to put its webOS, the operating system acquired with its purchase of Palm, on every new PC it ships, a distribution potential in the hundreds of millions, along with an established sales force that reaches enterprises worldwide.

"The developers are heat seekers - they move to where the volume is, where the money is," said Crawford Del Prete, an analyst with IDC. But what type of cloud will HP build? Will it be a cloud that is difficult to exit from, or unable to work with other cloud services that customers are certain to use?

A big player in this is Microsoft , and although Apotheker talked about HP's long friendship with Microsoft, he didn't disclose how the two may work. Del Prete said HP's cloud platform will work well with Microsoft's Azure cloud platform, allowing developers and users to easily use both.

Monday's announcement was Apotheker's first real effort to explain how he will differ from his predecessor, Mark Hurd, who was forced to resign following board questions about his employment of a former B-movie actress at high-level customer events. Apotheker was appointed in September.

Analysts said that some of the work that led to Monday's announcements are projects that began under Hurd, but what Apotheker offered was a cohesive and unifying strategy for the company.


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