HP announced this week that it has hired Mark V. Hurd,
previously president and CEO of
With HP floundering in a time where other IT giants are pursuing new markets, a focus on execution could be exactly what HP needs. If Hurd is as good at building internal consensus and morale as is expected, there is hope that he can undo some of the significant damage his predecessor left behind with her departure. This may be the first and foremost task at hand for Hurd: to staunch the flow of talent departures and identify and empower those in HP that can bring the company back to something more than it has been in the past few years.
Despite HP’s drift, it has been interesting to note that there have been no large, wholesale defections of customers within the enterprise ranks. While some have moved away, the fact most have remained even while HP has begun pushing more high-profile consumer products works in Hurd’s favor, to a point. Large enterprise customers are a foundation for the company, but an improved revenue stream is going to have to come not only from improved sales to large enterprises but also from expanding SMB markets. While HP has remained largely stationary, its competitors have been increasingly aggressive in pursuing the SMB market, which offers both new revenue opportunities and long-term relationships. HP’s channel remains largely discombobulated at this point in time, and in such a condition as to make HP’s move into the SMB market a considerable challenge. Good feelings and morale are fine, but building a powerful channel ecosystem takes time and commitment. Will Hurd do what is needed to rebuild trust? Stay tuned.
In the past
Microsoft has revealed more details of its latest approach to managing identities, designed to improve the reliability and security of its software. The technology involves “info-cards” that will be built into Windows, although Microsoft has declined to confirm whether that technology will first be available in Longhorn, its next version of the Windows operating system, or will be incorporated into the current XP. Microsoft has stated that the technology will give users more control over their own personal information, as the data will reside on user systems rather than on a corporate server in cyberspace.
Identity theft is a growing concern, as are privacy rights. Past efforts by Microsoft, as well as by other well meaning vendors, have focused on creating meta-databases full of customer information. These efforts have all been strongly opposed by privacy-rights advocates — and by many nervous users — as cases of hackers breaking into and stealing digital records appear often enough to give anyone pause. What makes this technology different is that it proposes to keep the software on the client’s system and presumably under the client’s control. This means that users would have control over what data they share and with whom. It is a much more reasonable approach as long as the info-cards work with industry standards such as XML to insure compatibility and make the process simple for end users to maintain, update, and control. Any technology that puts control in the hands of the user in a straightforward manner will only be applauded by us.
While all this sounds like a good idea, it raises eyebrows within the community as once again Microsoft seemingly sets out to reinvent the wheel, if not the entire drive chain. The problem is that Microsoft still has a perception problem with end users regarding security. Windows products are still perceived as more vulnerable to security attacks than other operating systems regardless of their actual security, and Microsoft has a long way to go in convincing customers that it has the right software in which to deposit important data. There are also other companies who have spent a lot of time working on security, and it is interesting that once again Microsoft has chosen to go it alone on the design front when other companies are jumping onto the collaboration bandwagon as never before. And unless the ISVs have massive buy-in, this initiative too will be in danger of being left by the wayside. This is one instance where the network effect is imperative. Finally, the ongoing issues Microsoft has with the European Union are only just now getting settled. It is clear that while government can sense the conditions that raise their anti-monopoly hackles, they have absolutely no idea how to deal with software and the rate of software change. At this point, almost no one cares what media player is included with the OS, and having fractured versions of the operating system with various features is not the optimal way to resolve these problems and simplify life for customers. The idea of built-in security will certainly make government even more nervous than a simple media player, and we’d hate to see court cases against security software.
Juniper Networks announced this week that it has acquired
Kagoor Networks, a supplier of technology providing both security and quality
assurance levels to VoIP offerings. Juniper will pay $67.5 million in cash for
Kagoor, which has offices in California and Israel. Kagoor’s prime offering
provides session border control (
While Cisco remains the first violin in the networking market, Juniper is playing a very melodic second fiddle as it continues to increase its market share vis-à-vis Cisco. Juniper has also begun a wholesale assault on the enterprise market, a place where Cisco has held dominion among networking companies. This acquisition is the latest in a series of purchases by Juniper, and by far not the largest.
As VoIP and other rich media-over-IP networks continue to gain ground as both consumer and enterprise offerings, they will drive ongoing innovations as requirements for security, availability, and trans-network interoperability continue to increase. In this regard, Juniper remains well positioned to continue taking market share from Cisco, especially if it remains out on the cutting edge of technology development. Cisco certainly would not want to exchange its installed base with Juniper but the weight of servicing and maintaining that base through product upgrades and continuity may be costing Cisco enough time and energy to prevent its looking far enough forward into the future. If that is indeed the case, look for Juniper and its ongoing VoIP push to improve its position vis-à-vis Cisco in the coming years.