HP 'innovation' reeks of self-interest

Hewlett-Packard claims to be interested in customer innovation, but its stance toward open source doesn't bear this out.

Embedded in the news that Hewlett-Packard plans to cut 24,600 jobs from its roster in an effort to make its EDS acquisition work, was this interesting tidbit from its call with analysts, as ZDNet captured:

One of the things HP says it wants to offer with its portfolio of offerings--across the board in hardware, software and now services--is flexibility in meeting the customer's demand. CIOs today are dealing with...big issues (like) needing to flip that spending ratio to less on maintenance and more on innovation...And there are choices on how to do it: buy it from HP or let HP do it for you, executives said.

Very cheeky. Though HP makes quite a bit of money from software, its real business going forward is hardware and services. In HP's mind, this means "innovation," and the more of that innovation bought from HP, the better.

In the mind of the CTO and CIO, however, innovation may actually mean open source .

I agree that enterprises should spend less money on licensing and more on tailoring software to specific enterprise needs. Where perhaps I disagree with HP, however, is on the most efficient route to get there. Open source is tailor-made for this sort of value proposition, but HP has traditionally paid more lip service to open source (beyond Linux) than it has actually done anything.

If HP is truly interested in enterprise innovation, let it commit its significant resources to deploying services and hardware around open-source software. No more licensing waste with ever-increasing maintenance fees born of lock-in to a proprietary platform . Just pure value to the customer.

How about that, HP?

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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