HP's Léo Apotheker: We're heading to the cloud

In an exclusive interview, HP's new CEO expands on his strategy and offers frank assessments of his competition

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Apotheker: Well, about the things they don't have -- they don't have a public cloud offering, they don't pretend to have an open marketplace where you can have at the same time consumer and enterprise applications. What we really aim for is that individual within an enterprise, the famous -- for the lack of a better term, forgive me if it's a horrible term -- "prosumer." People who want one device on which they can have their private and their professional life nicely separated, where they know in confidence that privacy is privacy. And when a company knows that confidentiality and compliance is also guaranteed, we can provide this.

We can provide this because we still have a foot -- a pretty big foot, actually -- on the consumer side of the business. IBM can't provide that. They might talk about it -- I mean talk is cheap. But delivering all of this is a whole different story.

Gallant: And a couple of other areas to drill down into, because these two companies ...

Apotheker: I would rather talk about HP than talk about IBM.

Gallant: Well, I'm trying to help people understand ...

Apotheker: They should just read all about HP, and then they'll understand.

Gallant: This is a perfect opportunity. You mentioned yesterday that you're not playing catch-up in analytics or BI to IBM. Can you explain that, given the size of its BI business today?

Apotheker: You said it very correctly. It's BI. I am not into the BI business; I'm into the analytics business. BI, and I should know a little bit better than many people at IBM probably, is a backward-looking technology. BI is nothing else than reporting, just called with a fancy name.

And I'm sure you've been looking at this for many, many years in your career: a data warehouse. If you want to build a data warehouse, if you don't know the kind of questions you are going to ask in advance, you don't know what data you have put in there. And by the way, data warehouses are essentially populated with structured data.

Big data analytics is something totally different: the capability to combine structured data, which is growing only at a linear rate, with unstructured data that is exploding. It is the unstructured data that puts context on the structured data. That is what we are all about. And again, we can jump there straightaway because we have no constraints. I have no DB2 to protect. I have no old Cognos to protect.

It's nice, but that's yesterday's technology. It's all happening in memory, it's all happening on very fast huge-scale capabilities of weeding data, putting it into context, and then coming to a whole set of new conclusions that are not certitudes but that are giving you context to make better decisions.

I'm not trying to compete on reporting because the world has enough reporting capabilities. We are trying to create a market which, by the way, others are going to do as well, which puts decision-making into a whole new way of looking at things and giving people context and guidance and intelligence into making way smarter decisions than ever before.

Knorr: So your analytic strategy goes beyond Vertica then? Because Vertica is really a columnar database, right?

Apotheker: Of course. Well, Vertica is a columnar in-memory database, which is why it's so fast. But it won't stop there.

Knorr: So Hadoop, MapReduce-style, large unstructured data? You haven't announced any plans beyond Vertica, though.

Apotheker: No, we usually make something happen first, then we announce it.

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