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HP puts the net pedal to the metal

An inside discussion with the man calling the shots

By , Network World
September 10, 2009 12:08 AM ET
Mauris Haas

Network World - Marius Haas is senior vice president and general manager of HP's ProCurve Networking business, which was recently aligned with the company's server, storage and services businesses under HP's Technology Solutions Group, creating an approximately $45 billion unit. Haas, who previously served as senior vice president of strategy and corporate development, is charged with shifting the network business into overdrive. Network World Editor in Chief John Dix caught up with Haas to talk about the market and his plans.

HP seems to have found new religion about networking. What has changed and what are you guys doing differently?

With ProCurve we've done a good job building up a mid market value proposition with great technology and a great total cost of ownership structure. Last November I was tasked with leading the ProCurve organization and given the charter of expanding that value proposition into the enterprise. We knew we needed to have a converged fabric strategy for storage, networking and compute, and the ability to tie it into our overall management scheme. We have the technology from a company standpoint. We're actually the only company that has all those components in its portfolio. And when you couple that with the economic situation customers are facing, and the fact that customers are adamant about wanting a market alternative, we felt the timing was perfect and we said, 'OK, time to invest heavily in this business.' And that's what we're doing.

After you arrived and got the lay of the land, what did you realize you had to do?

It’s a total addressable market of about $19 billion, and today we only cover, from the number of customers we’re touching, about 25% of that. So we have a huge opportunity to expand our coverage even with the current portfolio. So my most important priority is to expand my reach. I do that by leveraging every asset HP has from a go-to-market perspective, invest in scaling the Networking sales force and expanding my channel and partner ecosystem. Priority number two is to create awareness and end user demand for our solutions. So that’s the low hanging fruit we’re continuing to address.

But as customers demand us to be present in more and more of the stack, we need to invest in expanding the portfolio. Last year you saw us acquire Colubris Networks which gave us a leading edge 802.11n wireless capability. Now we’re one of the only companies that can provide integrated wired and wireless technology under one management pane of glass, which solidifies us as a great network edge solution for virtually any customer. And we’ll continue to aggressively expand the product portfolio and leverage our world class R&D team.

And finally, we’re investing in integration with the other parts of HP, including our blade server and storage guys. So alignment and integration of the different R&D streams is an area we clearly see opportunity.

Are you going forward with a value story? What's your elevator pitch?

It's a story of leading edge, standards-based technology with industry-leading total cost of ownership metrics. But we also have an industry-leading warranty that many others are trying to copy. If you dive down deep, though, you see they're not even coming close because you still need to buy incremental software and upgrade packages before you truly get what we offer today. And obviously the other piece is HP is a company that's got unrivaled breadth and depth.

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