Hewlett-Packard isn’t the only tech giant attempting to leverage businesses’ interest in so-called “converged infrastructure,” in which hardware and software are sold as a unified stack: Dell, Cisco, and others all want a piece of that particular market.
But HP’s bet on converged infrastructure is particularly large. “If we can make each of these business units function beautifully on their own right and then link it together in offerings like [converged] cloud, security, and our, you know, server storage and network business in unique ways,” CEO Meg Whitman told CNBC in a 2012 interview, “I think we bring something very needed to the marketplace.” As part of that effort, HP soon began slapping the “Converged” label onto broad swaths of its portfolio—HP’s Converged Cloud joined HP Converged Infrastructure, HP Converged Management and Security, Converged Information and hardened OpenStack technology in one big happy family.
Now HP’s rolling out a new set of platforms in its ConvergedSystem line, all of them designed to bring the company’s expertise in hardware to bear on a number of specific software issues:
HP Converged System for Virtualization consists of “modular virtualization systems” (HP’s words) capable of supporting 50 to 1,000 virtual machines apiece. HP ConvergedSystem 100 for Hosted Desktops is based off HP’s long-running “Moonshot” server project, designed to give businesses speedier virtual-desktop performance. And then there’s HP ConvergedSystem 300 for Vertica, meant to speed “Big Data” analytics at a lower cost than other infrastructure setups.
HP has something of a tortured relationship with data analytics. A few years ago, it acquired U.K.-based Autonomy as part of an abortive effort to rapidly transform itself from a hardware manufacturer to more of a software-and-services concern; while Autonomy subsequently proved a massive financial dud (with its former management team accused of accounting improprieties and misrepresentations), some of the software from the acquisition has found its way into HP security and data-backup offerings.
Despite that misfire, HP can’t afford to stay out of the analytics market—it’s potentially too lucrative, with too many of the company’s rivals looking to dominate it with their own offerings. And so HP throws itself back into the breach with offerings such as ConvergedSystem 300 for Vertica, hoping that its facility with hardware can help it gain a toehold in the brave new world of Big Data.