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Hewlett-Packard has claimed the current financial storm blowing out of the financial sector and into the wider economy doesn't make it a really bad time to launch its cloud computing strategy into Europe.

The Palo Alto, California-based firm, traditionally known for its heavy weight hardware and imaging businesses is punting not just software as a service (SAAS) but “everything as a service” by urging customers to hitch a ride on its cloud.

HP’s UK and Ireland veep and director Steve Gill claimed this week that the tech industry is undergoing a “fundamental shift” geared towards web-based apps and cloud-based computing.

“Instead of installing everything on our devices we'll access it through the cloud, which will get better over time at delivering information specifically tailored towards individual users," he said.

HP reckons online services such as web-based applications, backup and data storage all make up the radical shift from the desktop to the cloud. But it’s not the first, and won’t be the last big name tech vendor to join the Web 2.0 jamboree in the hope of expanding its fat market share.

Gill explained that the firm, which launched its "everything as a service" vision State-side in mid-March, was “at the beginning of this transition”, and said HP expects “partners and customers to take advantage” of the new strategy. He added that SAAS was “only the tip of the iceberg”, a remark that was almost certainly intended to distinguish HP’s biz model from an increasingly SAAS-obsessed crowd of competitors.

He described the economic uncertainty that is currently gripping financial markets and seeping into other parts of the economy as a “fantastic opportunity” for some organisations to shake up their IT departments by having fewer people with better roles to help companies drive down costs.

And, in spite of the fact that other multinational tech firms that have recently pursued a voracious acquisition strategy and have subsequently felt the pinch from a slow down in customer spending, HP seems convinced that now is the time to strike with its own cloud vision.

Some companies were already "part way through their own transformational journey" Gill said, and there was no way they were going to stop now. Others would look at the resources they had, see that rivals's budgets were challenged, and choose to "leapfrog" them.

Gill insisted that even companies that had nothing to invest could benefit from calling in HP. "There's always somewhere we can see where we can save money." ®

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