HP eyes security, SMB spaces

SAN FRANCISCO (11/21/2003) - While Hewlett-Packard Co. has lofty plans to conquer markets such as security and SMB (small and midsize business), the company does not give rival Sun Microsystems much credence in efforts such as Linux and servers.

HP has security projects in development such as moving its SSL-based VPN technology to 802.11 wireless networks, said Shane Robison, HP executive vice president and chief technology and strategy officer. Additionally, automatic virus detection and incident response is in development in HP's labs, Robison said in interview on Thursday.

Also in development is software for defining security policies.

Security software in development would either become part of the company's HP OpenView system management platform or layered on top of it, according to Robison.

HP has gained much experience in security in that most of the world's automated teller machines operate technology now owned by HP, Robison said, referring to the Tandem technology acquired through the Compaq merger.

Eyeing the SMB market, HP believes it must boost its presence in this area, making it a focus area on par with the company's consumer and enterprise technology endeavors, according to Robison. Product areas HP will target toward SMBs include wireless systems, printing and imaging, and low-end servers, said Robison.

"SMBs are going to be one of the more interesting growth opportunities," said Robison.

HP's services organization also could be leveraged to lure SMB customers, he said. "In the SMB space, they don't have expertise in-house," said Robison.

Robison, however, belittled Sun's efforts such as offering desktop software and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Opteron-based hardware.

"I think Sun is trying to justify just about anything they can," said Robison. He characterized Sun as a company in trouble.

Robison rejected Sun's pronouncement that its Java Desktop System, featuring desktop applications and Linux, make Sun the Linux desktop leader. "That's a bit of a stretch," he said.

Sun has erred in sticking to its "proprietary" Sparc microprocessor architecture, Robison said. HP, meanwhile, is consolidating around the Intel Corp. platform, he noted. Sun's Opteron systems "may be too little, too late," Robison added.

A Sun representative dismissed Robison's comments.

"That's about what you would expect a person at HP to say," said Sun spokesman Russ Castronovo.

Robison also said that HP can leverage huge economies of scale in dealing with component makers in that it purchases US$38 billion worth of components annually, and that the merger with Compaq has proceeded smoothly. "The merger, for all intents and purposes, is complete. We over-achieved the financial (expectations) in half the time we thought it would take," Robison said.

"HP is actively participating in the grid computing space with efforts such as its SmartFrog technology for describing distributed software systems as collections of cooperating components," Robison said.

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