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HP - Autonomy deal: Facing up to the risks

Merger and sale of PC business mean customers need to be vigilant

Dramatic changes at HP, including spinning off its PC division and the acquisition of Autonomy, the UK's largest software company, pose potential risks for corporate IT organisations, according to analysts.

Forrester analyst Clarence Villanueva urged sourcing and vendor management professionals "to be vigilant in the face of potential threats posed by the merger".

"If you're in the midst of crafting a PC Refresh RFP, ask how contracts will be maintained going forward," Villanueva wrote.

"If you're a current (or soon-to-be) Autonomy customer, get your licenses in check. From an audit perspective, ensure you're in compliance with your licenses before HP targets you," he added.

Villanueva also suggested that some IT departments may want to snap up discounted HP WebOS tablets, but he warned that with HP ending its TouchPad operations "don't expect that they'll be able to service them (or provide any OS updates) if you have any issues."

For Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, HP's purchase of Autonomy is an important step in its evolving software strategy.

"Future enterprise platforms will require engagement apps to be more contextual and directed," he told Computerworld UK.

"The challenge is Autonomy's platforms are fairly old and HP doesn't have a good track record in enterprise software to date so execution remains the key issue."

This is not just an issue for HP, but could have an impact on both its customers and those of the newly-acquired Autonomy.

HP's ability to execute on the acquisition is also questioned by Angela Eager, an analyst at TechMarketView. who asked, "Where are the synergies?":

"Given the limited synergy between the two companies, at this point in time it is difficult to see precisely how Autonomy will benefit from the move.

"If HP intends using Autonomy and its own related assets as the basis for a concerted push into the analytics and information management space, Autonomy could benefit. But the question that can't be ignored is how capable a vendor with a very limited software heritage is of making it work."

Ovum analyst Mike Davis was more positive though.

"Buying Autonomy moves HP into the 'big league' of enterprise software vendors alongside IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP," he wrote.

"There are strategic synergies with the earlier acquisitions (not least the BI specialist Vertica), and given previous HP and Autonomy purchases, customers of both companies should regard this move as more of an opportunity than a risk."

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