HP Discover: Autonomy ‘Even More’ Central To HP

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brian weiss hp autonomy discover 2012

Far from hiding Autonomy away, HP is relying on it, says vice president Brian Weiss

With all the legal fuss around Autonomy, you might expect HP to de-emphasise the British software company it acquired last year for a controversially huge $10 billion. Instead, the subsidiary has an almost permanent stage presence at the HP’s Discover 2012 event in Frankfurt.

More than that, Autonomy is apparently even more central than ever to HP’s future plans, as Hewlett-Packard believes only a close integration of hardware and software can deliver the best results, with code that searches for meaning in huge data sets. At least that’s what Brian Weiss told us at HP Discover. He’s a former Autonomy product VP, who is now vice president of information governance at HP.

Exodus of Autonomy talent

The Autonomy brand is tainted by multiple lawsuits around the  HP acquisition, but that doesn’t seem to bother HP, which is pushing right ahead with its plans. This is the company which makes its own mind up. It would proverbially market sushi – if it sold it  – as “raw fish”.

The value of Autonomy has crumbled – on paper, an $8 billion write-down  has been wiped form the $10 billion HP paid for it, but this has not changed how Autonomy is seen within HP, said Weiss.

“Has the interest in Autonomy gone down in proportion to the write-down?” he asked, when we posed the question. “Exactly the opposite!”

HP is more committed than ever to its strategic bets, and plans to embed the software deeply into almost everything it does, said Weiss. And he does mean everything.

In yesterday’s storage announcements, analytics is embedded into the storage – and that means performance is increased, he said. Does this have an impact on how Autonomy is valued within the company? We haven’t seen that. What we have seen instead is very firm commitment on strategic bets around information, cloud and security.

Embedding analytics in storage helps unlock the wasted compute power within these systems, and removes the overhead of transferring the data somewhere else to be processed, explained Weiss.

storage area networking : Shutterstock © Eimantas Buzas“To get through  500 million objects, you need a lot of compute power,” he said. “Normally, you have to trade off the freshness of the data with the compute resources you are prepared to spend. But our storage guys have come along and said ‘we can help you with that'”.

Processing within the storage system also helps with Hadoop Big Data implementation, he said, and saves time on transmitting data. “We are also looking at the ingestion layer,” said Weiss, and that is very difficult to do in real time.

“No other company can do this,” he said, “because it is all under one roof, and our engineers can work with the StoreAll folks to get that integration.”

No other company? What about IBM? “IBM has those techn0logies, but they don’t work together,” he responded. “If the data is very large and has to move across boundaries, it becomes untenable.”

Autonomy is also involved in analysis of the human information in security log files produced by HP’s ArcSight business. There’s even a move to put Autonomy in printers and PCs, so document management “can be in the cloud”.  “HP has taken a very aggressive strategic approach to leveraging the Autonomy software across HP’s entire portfolio,” said Weiss.

What about Autonomy staff though? We tell Weiss the rumours about the exodus of top talent. In response, he laughs loudly: “There has not been an exodus of talent. I still run this business, and I am offended by that. In fact, employee turnover from May 2012 [when Autonomy founder Mike Lynchg left] to now has dropped in half. The rate we had prior to May has dropped. The idea that hundreds of Autonomy employees have left since HP acquired it is completely false.

“The smart people are still here – in fact we are adding talent every week,” he said, adding that Autonomy now benefits from the rest of HP’s software business expertise.

Among the products launched at the HP Discovery 2012 is an eDiscovery appliance based on Autonomy, which is important, noted Weiss.  Autonomy is being used in the legal case around the BP oil spill, which is the largest eDiscovering project in the history of mankind.

But will HP legal people be using that in the Autonomy lawsuit? “There have been some ironic jokes about that”, concludes Weiss.

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