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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Gallant: One of the things that happened with the desktop revolution was that corporate IT stepped in and said: These are the standards, these are the machines we'll buy and support.

Is that horse out of the barn already with the tablet? Is it too late for enterprise IT to do that with the tablet?

Apotheker: I think enterprise IT will have to do that, only because of security and compliance concerns, and that's basically one of the markets we're going to aim for.

Gallant: To the extent of saying this is the tablet we'll support?

Apotheker: Yes.

Gallant: Versus any tablet?

Apotheker: Yes.

Gallant: You talked yesterday about the consumerization of IT being one of the major trends. Extrapolate out five years. What is the impact on IT? How significant a change does it force IT to go through?

Apotheker: Well, five years is a long time in IT, so this is a dangerous prediction. Let's stop at three.

Gallant: Take it as far as you feel comfortable.

Apotheker: Which is kind of real risky, but I'll go to three. I think the first thing is that it will force corporate IT to have significantly faster innovation cycles. That's going to have a massive impact. It's going to have a massive impact on all of the applications that are being used. Some of the good old client/server or even older applications will simply not be used anymore by the millennial workers, by that generation, because they won't even want to touch this kind of stuff. Context-aware applications are going to be really important because that's what the consumer is having already today.

So geo-location, there's a context-sensitive device, enhanced reality, all of these things will have a profound impact on how the professional user or consumer will want to use corporate IT, and I think corporate IT is going to have to adapt to that really quickly or people will just go outside all the time and get some cloud service somewhere and will simply pretend that they are using corporate IT.

Knorr: As far as private cloud is concerned, it's not really clear the form that the private cloud is taking in the enterprise right now. What's your vision of that?

Apotheker: That's a great question. Private clouds, in my opinion, for at least the larger enterprises, will become full-fledged cloud services in their own right because, as we just talked about, they will also become a great tool for corporate IT to actually have significantly faster innovation cycles so they can really adapt or adopt some of these things we just talked about. If they just stick to the appliance kind of thing, they won't be able to do all of the innovation they need to do on the application side -- at least not fast enough.

In a real cloud environment if they have the entire cloud capability, it's then when they can start to transform some of the backbone and then really have the infrastructure that they need to quickly embrace whatever is happening in terms of functionality, in terms of ease-of-use, in terms of context, in terms of the activity of the things that we're seeing in the consumer market.

Gallant: A year from now, people will judge whether you're successful by what -- beyond things like the stock price. If you're an enterprise IT person, HP will be different under your watch how a year from now?

Apotheker: A year is probably a little bit short to take HP to this entire thing that we've been talking about.

Gallant: Go with your three years again.

Apotheker: But I would hope that corporate IT will view HP as a truly trusted advisor when it comes to topics such as next-gen IT, how to get there, how to deliver a value to the users, and how to really make IT again a very exciting place where information is delivered at the best possible rate and speed.

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