In the tech world, products are giving way to platforms. Count Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) among those indulging the shift with new "converged" systems and storage platforms announced at this week's business customer conference in Barcelona. The idea: give deep-pocketed buyers the option to buy ready-made tech for handling common data center jobs.
"ConvergedSystem" includes models built specifically for supporting up to 1,000 virtual machines, or for crunching big data analytics, or serving dozens of virtual desktop computers from a data center. "ConvergedStorage" includes models for backup, archiving, or for high-performance flash storage. Each machine is a built for a single purpose, but self-contained to make them easier to deploy.
Speed is key to the pitch. Bill Veghte, executive vice president and general manager of Hewlett-Packard's Enterprise Group, said in a press release that the ConvergedSystem and ConvergedStorage products offer an "agile pool" of resources.
Sound familiar? It should. Every major IT supplier is pitching platforms now. Take Oracle (NYSE: ORCL ) , which supplements tens of billions in database and software applications revenue with $5 billion in hardware sales and support. IBM, for its part, has spent decades writing consulting contracts in order to offset declining single-product sales. And even that fails from time to time: Third-quarter revenue from systems and technology (i.e., the group that sells servers) fell 17% year over year, disappointing analysts.
At Hewlett-Packard, ConvergedSystem and ConvergedStorage come as the company is selling more gear to bigger clients. Veghte's Enterprise Group accounted for 26% of fiscal Q4 revenue and more operating profit than Hewlett-Packard's once-vaunted printer division.
Why? Data growth. Cisco's annual survey of networking trends predicts that, by 2017, global data flow will exceed 1.4 zettabyte, roughly equivalent to 1.4 filled-to-the-brim terabyte hard drives. As a result of that, Gartner estimates that businesses will expand capacity by more than 800% over the next five years.
No wonder HP is making such a big deal about its new converged system. Wooing clients in Barcelona's milder winter climes isn't just a perk for the sales staff -- it's an imperative for Hewlett-Packard's increasingly enterprise-driven business.
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