Beyond Apple and Google: 2012's key enterprise shifts

Oracle, SAP, HP, and VMware all began to reinvent themselves in the past year to better face the new tech landscape

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Setting aside the sorry saga of Palm, EDS, and Autonomy, all HP currently has is a strategy to pare the losses, not a plan to move ahead once that's done. As InfoWorld's Bill Snyder recently and pointedly wrote, "HP's big problem isn't Autonomy: It's HP." He sums up a truly dismal catalog of woes facing the company: HP's cash cow, the market for printers and ink, is shrinking; the PC market is declining as the old desktop-centric computing model takes second place to mobile hardware and applications; HP's mobile strategy has been entirely unclear since it killed WebOS, with the company a virtual no-show in the emerging world of tablets and smartphones; and its services business, which is supposed to be the other main revenue driver, is in questionable shape.

We'll have to wait and see whether Whitman will be the CEO who can finally pull a winning strategy out of the Turnaround Artist Manual, and set HP back on a path to innovation -- assuming she can get HP out of intensive care first.

VMware: Getting back to its roots so it can grow into the next-gen data center
For VMware and parent company EMC, it's been a year of refining the mission. Under Paul Maritz's leadership, VMware went on a buying spree in recent years, snapping up SpringSource, Zimbra, Hyperic, Socialcast, SlideRocket, Shavlik, and Mozy, with technologies ranging from email/collaboration to social networking to online backup. Earlier this month, EMC and VMware announced they were spinning out a new company called Pivotal that combines many of these odd-duck acquisitions. All the app dev, app lifecycle management, big data, and PaaS assets will be collected in this new company, leaving VMware to focus on its core virtualization business.

Still, the company continued its acquisitive ways in 2012 -- Ceta for big data analytics, cloud automation vendor DynamicOp, desktop management company Wanova, and networking virtualization software startup Nicira -- but in areas that seemed to mesh more with that core virtualization business. In an exclusive interview with InfoWorld's Eric Knorr, Nicira's CTO attempted to explain why Niciara is worth $1.2 billion to VMware -- particularly when Nicira has been a key developer of the Quantum networking component of OpenStack, which in some ways competes with VMware's private cloud products.

Was there a grand plan behind all these purchases? It seems Maritz wanted VMware to be the post-PC Microsoft. But in a move that surprised many, EMC -- apparently while the Nicira buy was in the planning stages -- decided to to take over as CEO of VMware and moved Maritz to EMC as its chief strategy officer. EMC CEO Joe Tucci said at the time that while Maritz and team had done a "stellar" job in preparing VMware for next phase of cloud computing, EMC and VMware needed to make adjustments "to become the leaders in building out the complete, software-defined data center."

That won't be so easy. InfoWorld's Matt Prigge does an excellent job of laying out the challenges that face VMware as it leaps into software-defined networking: "The success or failure of VMware in the market -- and the success or failure of IT organizations that adopt the VMware infrastructure -- depends not only on the quality of its solutions, but also on how well it can unite them into a single, monolithically managed, extended, and automated set of tools." Tune in next year to see how the company does in integrating the products and technologies it acquired in 2012.

This story, "Beyond Apple and Google: 2012's key enterprise shifts," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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