How Cloud Computing Harmed and Helped HP in its Trying 2015

Computing HardwareThe cloud is changing tech companies — not the other way around.

Last year, computing hardware giant Hewlett-Packard became the subject of a rude awakening, one of many in a very eventful 2015. In a bid to undertake one of the greatest reorganization attempts in the history of technology, HP eventually folded from the public enterprise, with its proposed cloud strategy simply failing to, well, take to the skies.

Insufficient, Not Incapable

“We thought people would rent or buy computing from us,” Bill Hilf, head of HP’s cloud business told The New York Times. He mentions in hindsight that HP should not have gone head-to-head with Amazon, Google, and Microsoft in business rentals of computing power via public cloud assets.

It was too little, too late in a sector that many others were already dominating, but it would be unfair to say that HP had no business trying in the first place.

Indelible, Not Invincible

HP is still one of the world’s most prominent PC and printer manufacturers, despite its shrinking market share and volatile employee structure as of the last few years. Therefore, it is hard to fault them for seeing the adoption of big public clouds as a surefire way of rejuvenating the business and transitioning to a new format of selling computing. Then again, it was too little, too late, and the company had to fall back on equipment and software sales to keep its disparate parts together.

With giants such as Microsoft nurturing full-fledged enterprise server ecosystems of their own, ones so substantial that they warranted the creation of specialized certification exams—Microsoft’s being the 70-410 test—HP’s cloud-based downfall is as understandable as their initial attempt to compete.

Dave Bartoletti, a principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, summarizes HP’s cloud computing stumble by making a clear distinction between the company’s good and bad decisions: "The mistake from HP was that it sort of waffled for many years on what its cloud strategy is going to be.” “It wasn't a mistake to get into the public cloud, but the failure came from keeping the product in beta so long and not being clear with a strategy that said why it was better, faster or cheaper than what was out there,” he said.