Everyone heard the news last week of HP making a decision that it wants to emulate IBM rather than Apple by shedding its PC and cell phone businesses. But for Application Development Professionals, what does this announcement mean for HP QC and its newly defined ALM platform?

The bad news

The investment in WebOS and Palm meant that HP was in the mobile platform business, a business that is heavily connected to developers, open source communities, and applications. That connection would have required HP R&D to gain strong relationships to the developer community and be active in making it easier for developers to build on top of its platform. Of course, there were many questions regarding whether HP would be able to connect to developers; after all, it is a hardware company, and hardware engineers traditionally ignore software, considering it an afterthought — but at least the need was there, which is always a good place to start. Now that objective has gone. Mobile developers, who increasingly are becoming the mainstay of the next generation of applications, are not a core community for HP to court. And if IBM is to be copied, then mobile will be dropped from HP’s corporate vocabulary.  

The good news

Without the distraction of WebOS, HP will now increase its investment in its applications business, in particular the integrated strategy of IT Performance Suite and its supporting software solutions for IT strategy, ALM, and IT operations. This solution is aimed squarely at IT departments and the enterprise. The potential acquisition of Autonomy will only extend HP’s reach into enterprise IT, and if applied to IT performance management could provide valuable insights into the application environment.

Not pushing one particular mobile platform will free up the apps team to continue down its Switzerland route, supporting the platforms that its customers need. This neutral approach is different than the approaches of IBM and Microsoft; though they support many different platforms, they continue to place special emphasis on WebSphere and .NET. This may also position HP to partner more strongly with the emerging platforms such as Google, VMware, Apple, and Salesforce and in fact provide strong support for the next-generation mobile platforms.

The bottom line

But stopping doing something does not naturally mean that you focus more on something else, and since Leo Apotheker brought in new management, the operations business has reduced marketing headcount and expenses. In parallel, we are seeing increased investment in ALM R&D and development with new products such as service virtualization and improved integration with developer tools. Perhaps these marketing reductions were more in keeping with a lack of corporate direction. Now with the new strategy in place, HP will increase focus on the IT performance suite and its supporting software solutions. So, surprisingly, the announcements this week are actually good news for Application Development & Delivery Professionals.