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HP steals agenda setting crown from IBM

Playing with its big stick

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Comment It took the well-dressed businessmen hanging upside down from the rafters, the acrobats with iPAQs and the data center porn to mush the concept all over my brain. HP has unseated IBM as the agenda setter in the IT game. Or at least that's what HP believes.

I'm ashamed to admit that it required the full force of HP's Technology Forum propaganda to sound the alarm. Many of you not present at HP's customer extravaganza held last week in Las Vegas may have already figured out what's up with the recent "Business Technology" marketing pushed by Hurd and Co. HP wants to define the next major data center movement, just like IBM did a few years back with the "On Demand" onslaught.

Having overtaken IBM as the world's largest technology company, HP apparently sees this market setting plan as its right. I happen to agree with HP and am impressed with the speed at which it concocted the Business Technology concept.

For the unfamiliar, Business Technology, as best as I can tell, means that HP is ready to talk to customers about more than the gigabytes of storage in an array, the ROI of a web server rollout or how many transactions per minute an Itanium box can crank. Instead, HP wants to discuss a "phase where IT assets are managed in only one way – just on the business results" they deliver.

HP wants to brawl with Nick Carr who infamously asked, "Does IT matter?" and then more or less told us "No."

The argument makes sense given the recent fluctuations in technology spending. In the boom times, companies would pay anything to obtain the latest and greatest technology. During the bust times, they spent nothing. Of late, companies have turned to things such as VMware hoping to get the most out of the gear they're willing to buy.

The end result is an IT spending scenario where companies dish out most of their cash to maintain data center status quo and have just a small fraction of their budgets leftover for fresh, allegedly innovative projects. That's a horrible turn of events for companies such as HP and IBM that need to increase revenue $10bn to $20bn per year if they're to please investors.

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