Users wary of hardware HP’s push in BI software

Offerings will have to be 'extremely compelling' to win users from established vendors

Hewlett-Packard recently added a new business unit to its software division to oversee the company’s business intelligence and information management offerings.

The BI arm of the new Business Information Optimisation unit will sell internally developed data-warehousing technology, says Ben Barnes, vice-president of the BI group.

However, some HP users say they are dubious about buying key software products and services from a company that specialises in developing and supporting hardware products.

Ashok Bakhshi, IT director at Schindler Elevator in New Jersey, says his company “would not normally go to HP for that type of support. It is not their forte.”

Over the next several years, Schindler plans to deploy an enterprise data warehouse from SAP, Bakhshi says. Schindler uses ERP software from SAP and hardware from HP, he says.

Any proposal from HP to use its data warehouse software “would have to be extremely compelling from a performance and business-value standpoint before we would make the switch out of SAP,” says Bakshi.

Bill Kehoe, CIO of the Washington Department of Licensing, says the state agency has a BI project under way which is based on Microsoft’s SQL Server database software. Although the department is a big user of HP server and desktop computers, it wouldn’t seriously evaluate the vendor’s software before taking the time to see how HP’s services compare with those of other vendors “who have more experience,” he says.

HP began shipping one of the unit’s key products, the Neoview data warehousing offering, in October. But officials declined to name any companies other than HP that are using Neoview.

The technology includes a HP fault-tolerant server running the vendor’s storage and database software. HP says it is using Neoview internally as part of an ongoing effort to consolidate more than 700 data-marts into an enterprise data warehouse.

Not only is Neoview a “large, very scalable, very high-performance data warehouse”, but its price tag is also comparable with those of rival vendors, Barnes says.

Data-warehouse appliances, which are available from several vendors, include combinations of high-performance hardware along with database, storage and other software. The systems are generally pre-configured for specific tasks such as strategic analysis.

Barnes says HP expects better tapping of the BI and information management market will boost its corporate revenue by expanding its business within existing accounts.

Henry Morris, an analyst at market research firm IDC, says HP has long been involved in the BI business, because it provides servers that IT operations use to build and run data-warehouses.

Morris expects HP to rely on partners such as Cognos, Business Objects, SAS Institute and Hyperion Solutions for the BI tools used for reporting and analysis, unless it moves to purchase such a vendor.

“In terms of the overall solution for BI, there is much more to be gained in terms of overall revenue from services,” says Morris.

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