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HP users say corporate split might work

HP users say corporate split might work

The surprise news of HP's division wins qualified praise from enterprise customers

ORLANDO - Enterprise users see Hewlett-Packard's surprise decision to split itself as a good move -- as long as it leads to improvements in prices, services and support.

But the mechanics of the separation, which will take a year, are also raising questions about how HP will deliver services and support to companies as it goes through the process.

The HP announcement this morning took place Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo was getting under way; HP, among other vendors, is scheduled to deliver talks and updates on various aspects of its business. There are some 8,500 people at the conference, according to Gartner.

HP CEO Meg Whitman told financial analysts on a conference call early today, that separating the PC and printer division from HP's enterprise group will create two strong firms and give management teams at the two new entities improved focus.

"Being nimble is the only path to winning," Whitman said.

"I think it will be of some help," said Chuck Lamb, director of operations for Ryder System, a truck rental and supply chain management firm, of HP's split. "One of the things we have struggled with is there is not one HP."

Lamb said his company uses HP services that were once part of EDS' operation, and has been trying to improve the integration of those services, particularly the mainframe and midrange groups. He said the two services lack a consistent messaging.

"It might make them more disciplined," said Lamb, of the separation. "I don't think it can get any more disjointed."

Michael Dent, the CISO of Fairfax County, Va., wondered how HP's decision will affect procurement of its products and services.

"I would be concerned that I wouldn't get as good a price point," said Dent, if enterprise systems are sold separately from personal systems. He also wondered about how services will be divided.

"I think they should split up," said Gregory Blatnik, director of IT operations at Medical Mutual, a health plan. The separation "allows HP to be more focused on the enterprise and enterprise needs," he said.

Blatnik sees the consumer business as a distraction. Consumers "just care about getting on the Internet. We care about integration," he said.

Steve Lee, IT Manager at Dynetics Inc., an IT engineering firm that serves defense and automotive markets, said his firm typically seeks bids for desktop systems from Dell, HP and Lenovo. He thinks the coming split might help HP become competitive on desktop systems or at least "put them into a position to be seen as more competitive.

"I think it might help them be more focused," said Lee.

"I don't see it as a problem for us," said Alfons Schermaier, a senior architect at a chemicals industry firm that relies on parts of HP's enterprise business. "They have a solid engineering culture."

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