HP takes own medicine for internal IT transformation

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has outlined how it is using some of its own products and services to transform its IT estate.

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Hewlett-Packard (HP) has outlined how it is using some of its own products and services to transform its IT estate.

Speaking at HP Discover in Las Vegas, technology and operations vice-president John Hinshaw explained how the firm is using some of the tools it gained through recent acquisitions, such as Vertica and Autonomy, to improve its internal business processes.

To meet its data warehousing needs, the company did a pilot with analytics specialist Teradata. It also approached one of its competitors, Vertica, to see what it could do for the company, Hinshaw said.

He explained: “We realised that Vertica could actually become our warehouse. So we bought Vertica and now we use it for our warehouse. That saved us 90 percent on what we would have spent with Teradata.”

Similarly, Hinshaw said that the acquisition of Autonomy - which was highly controversial - has been ‘immensely helpful’ as part of the company’s big data analytics platform ‘HAVEn’. He said that the platform “allows us to analyse HP.com traffic much faster, and helped us to make the website a lot more efficient”.

The IT transformation project is part of the company’s wider turnaround strategy started two years ago by CEO Meg Whitman shortly after she was appointed.

Hinshaw said: “Before I joined [in November 2011] we had taken rationalised our applications and reduced our data centres, but we had not taken advantage of the new style of IT. So we embarked on a journey two years ago to do that.”

Hinshaw told delegates that he originally expected that he would need to increase HP’s data centres to meet growing demand. However, using the company’s Moonshot’ server, which was launched last year, HP has managed to save money and reduce power consumption and may even be able to reduce the number of data centres the firm requires.

Hinshaw said: “We looked at our infrastructure which was growing in demand every day, with big data demanding additional resource needs. We looked at our six data centres and we thought we’d need to plan for seven and then eight.”

“HP.com gets 300 million hits a day. That was running on 25 racks of servers in our data centres, on traditional blade servers. We replaced that with Moonshot and it now only takes up three racks. That’s almost a 90 percent energy reduction…instead of going from six data centres to eight, now I believe I can go from six to four.”

Of course the company still looks beyond its own walls for much its IT. HP has bought cloud services from Salesforce.com, Fieldglass and DocuSign, amongst others, perhaps indicating its own deficiencies in this sector.

HP claims the crown for the ‘largest and fastest’ implementation of customer management software Salesforce.com, rolling it out to 30,000 sales representatives over eight months. The firm is also the biggest customer of DocuSign, using the firm’s electronic signature technology to reduce the time it takes to sign up new partners from five weeks to five days.

 
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