Later today, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman will take the stage at HP’s annual Discover event in Las Vegas to discuss the latest in the company’s turnaround, now in the third year of a six-year plan.
In the 32 months since Whitman took over as HP’s CEO in September of 2011, HP shares have risen by more than 88 percent. But progress has mostly come from deep cuts as she presided over a decline in HP’s annual sales of about $15 billion.
She has promised an eventual return to growth, and the company has shown early signs of progress. Expect to hear more on this.
Looking for a way to reverse the sales trend, HP has lately added to its product portfolio. Last year, it unveiled Project Moonshot, a line of lower-power servers intended to run in large data centers. And, earlier this year, it teamed up with Taiwan-based Foxconn to manufacture servers aimed at cloud service providers.
Yesterday, HP stepped up its efforts in the high-performance computing market and launched two new lines of supercomputing products that it will sell under the Apollo brand.
There are two versions, the Apollo 6000 and the Apollo 8000. One unique feature of the 8000 is that it uses water to keep the system components cool rather than a traditional system using cooled air and fans. Companies and research organizations that use supercomputers constantly struggle with the balance between squeezing more performance out of the chips doing the computing and the energy expended on keeping them from overheating.
Research firm Moor Insights and Strategy called HP’s approach to using liquid as the first to be commercially viable and usable in large-scale data centers. Previous attempts to use liquid to cool computers in the data center have always required specialized rack enclosures that take up valuable space. The new HP system, it says, fits in a specific rack that’s no wider than standard racks, making it readily usable to existing data centers.
It may surprise you to learn that HP is pretty strong in the supercomputing business. The market research firm IDC pegged HP’s share of what it calls high performance computing in 2013 at north of 32 percent, versus 27 percent for IBM. And on the most recent version of the twice-a-year list of the world’s Top 500 highest performing supercomputers, 195 — or nearly 40 percent — of those systems bore HP’s brand, versus 166 for Big Blue.
On another front, HP announced the extension of an old security technology into new areas. It’s called Atalla, and it’s a data encryption technology that HP has offered for more than 35 years. Banks and retailers often use it to secure financial transactions. Today, HP said it has adapted it to lock up data that’s stored in corporate clouds.
Whitman will certainly have more to say. One part of the company that she has praised recently during earnings calls is the 3Par storage unit, despite the fact that revenue in that business fell in the most recent quarter. There may be some news on a storage product based entirely on flash memory that HP has been talking about for a while.