HP outlines long-term strategy

Plans for next 18 months include improved direct sales technology, acquisitions and, yes, more printers.

Hewlett-Packard executives are mulling plans to improve over the next 18 months the technology the company uses to manage its direct sales, while it continues with commercial printing efforts and acquisitions of software companies.

Two weeks ago, HP CEO Mark Hurd, the company's board of directors and senior executives gathered at the computer giant's annual management retreat to discuss long-term strategies.

In marathon sessions that spanned the course of several days at the posh Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, Calif., HP's leadership hashed out HP's long-term strategy. Those in attendance worked from early morning to late evening, with few breaks given beyond meals, said a source with the company.

"By the time the lectures were done at 10 p.m., we were pooped and went to bed," the source said. An HP representative declined to comment on the planning sessions.

According to the source, HP is considering making more acquisitions in the infrastructure software arena. Those acquisitions would include security software companies, storage software makers and software companies that serve the blade server market.

The acquisitions would dovetail with HP's growth plans for its Technology Systems Group, which has already bought companies such as AppIQ for storage management.

Hurd has previously said market trends indicate a movement away from mainframe computers and a shift to blade servers, as well as virtualized storage. HP is likely to follow those trends.

Meanwhile, in HP's Imaging & Printing Group, the long-term plan to develop commercial printers is likely to continue.

"We want to develop the next Heidelberg press," the source said. Of course, HP said basically the same thing back in 2002.

On the chip front, although HP and Intel have had a long relationship involving their collaboration on the Itanium chip, delays by Intel have created frustration in the HP camp, the source said. As a result, HP may use Intel's archrival Advanced Micro Devices as a cattle prod of sorts to the chip giant, the source noted.

"We plan to use AMD's Opteron more and more," the source said.

Opteron competes chiefly with x86 chips such as Intel's Xeon. HP sells ProLiant-brand servers with as many as four Opteron or Xeon processors. However, x86 chips have steadily gained in computing power and overlap in abilities with HP's lower-end Itanium servers.

Intel declined to comment, other than to note that HP has been a very valuable partner, said Scott McLaughlin, an Intel spokesman.

Personal Systems Group
One area expected to get an internal technology revamp in the coming year and a half is direct sales, the HP source said.

Last July, HP announced that it had hired Randy Mott, Dell's former chief information officer. Mott, who serves as HP's CIO, previously

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