HP: Needs to Start Talking about the Future

HP wonít talk about futures ?

HP appears to have a corporate policy of not talking about futures. At a recent event I was advised that the legal department is involved in the release of some documents and routinely prevents any forward looking content from being released, whether reasonable or not. That has to change.

This policy must change or be adapted for Networking at least. Potential customers will need assurance that HP have a roadmap, that new features are being developed and to see and validate projected timelines. I certainly donít care that HP Legal doesnít like it; I need to see the strategy, the forward plan and the vision. I regularly receive forward looking briefings from Cisco Account Managers who are happy to brief on the forward roadmap. Network Architects regularly receive NDA briefings from Cisco and other vendors that show the proposed releases for features and products for up to five years (although three years is more common).

At OracleWorld HP took the stand at the keynote and said effectively nothing forward looking. Was this because the legal department stopped them from talking about futures ? Looks like it.

And again last week at the Network Tech Field Day, HP failed to give us any insight in the future of their data centre strategy. And previously at the HP Tech Day in Sacramento the same thing happened.

What drives my problem ?

Consider a data centre network. The core switches are commonly purchased during a build out and deployed. The Network Team will only replace or upgrade those switches when needed, and often they will last the life of the data centre of five years. A Core switch is a vital component in the service levels for the entire data centre, no core network, no service. Therefore the purchasing decision of the core switch requires a good understanding of the future roadmap. Without confidence, other vendors will be more appealing.

Second, networks are commonly built in pieces, not in a single large purchase but become a shared resource. That is, the network is not a single unit, and pieces are constantly changing in an organic way as projects fund and deploy elements (thanks to the stupid ITIL processes and idiot MBA managers). Unlike servers, and to a lesser extent – storage, networks are a fully shared resource and equipment rarely belongs to a single application. Networkers buy pieces of the design to fit an overall architecture.

The EtherealMind View

HP must be transparent about roadmaps and strategies with their customers and partner. If I donít know what the product futures look like, Iím not going to have confidence that this is the right choice. Without that confidence, Iím much less likely to consider HP Networking as a good choice.

If HP canít spell out itís plan for the future, Iím going to assume it doesnít have one. Thatís the only conclusion I can make. This needs to change today. Get the bureaucracy out of the way, and focus on your customers. We need to know what’s happening.

  • http://evilrouters.net Jeremy L. Gaddis

    You nailed it, Greg. Let’s hope they listen.

  • Daniel

    I found myself nodding along throughout this, and wonder if the vacuum is linked to them trying to work out what products to drop from the range.

    I’m still not sold on the re-badged 3Com kit, and it’s going to take a lot to make me enter willingly into a contract involving it.

    Procurve I can just about live with – I’ve seen that around for several years, but there’s just not enough pedigree for the rest of the range. Seriously, pick a typical non-Procurve closet switch from the range and Google for it – not much in the way of documented user experience (good or bad!) is there!.

    I think it’s also going to be quite interesting to see how the re-sellers of merchant silicon get on long-term in a market that has historically been dominated by a company that does much of it’s own design work in-house (Greg’s previous podcast comments on this topic noted).

    Questions about being in control of one’s own destiny spring to mind.

    • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

      I’m told that the ProCurve and H3C teams are fighting to keep their products alive and avoid losing their jobs. The product set is too big to survive and something has to go. In fact, I’m worried that whatever I buy might be made obsolete (excluding some of the bigger iron).

      I’m happy with merchant silicon in equipment. Frankly, I don’t care what engine is under the hood of the car as long as it gets me where I’m going.

  • Mark

    I agree Greg, as I read this I nodded like a fool and said, “Yup”.

    With servers it is easy, look and see what Intel has in the pipe and you know that HP will pump out a DL360Gblah with those chips glued to it. Add to that the fact that the business types seem to have a simpler time understanding upgrading servers vs. network gear… I can see why anyone would be hesitant to put all their eggs in the HP network basket.

    • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

      I think HP has got something, but I need to see the strategy to grow that into a purchasing decision.

  • http://hp.com sunny

    HP marketing routinely shares future product roadmaps with customers under NDA. I guess only in non-NDA public events they dont.

    • http://etherealmind.com Greg Ferro

      So my experience with HP is limited but I’m definitely having problems getting access to forward looking data for HP Networking of any sort. Maybe this will change something.

  • jumbo

    For me this is a sign of the “childhood” problems of HP networking division, which is here for almost 15 years.
    Looks like they never gotten themselves enough mgmt attention to be able to create a knowledge-base of pre-sales and post-sales technical information. The roadmap is just one example, another one is design docs and the fact I have not seen any deep technical information about the product (ASICs, buffers, limitations,….).

    Not speaking about the incredible post-sales “end-user level” 1st line tech support, with which you have to battle before actually getting to the 2nd liners…..

    One thing got my attention – Greg mentioning the sillyness of ITIL process and MBA type management. Would it be possible to expand on that topic I am really interested in what you opinion is.