Martin Reynolds

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Martin Reynolds
Managing VP
16 years at Gartner
27 years IT industry

Martin Reynolds is a vice president and Fellow in Gartner Research. He follows the broad areas of hardware technologies, and examines how they will develop and impact IT. Read Full Bio

HP Announces New CEO

by Martin Reynolds  |  September 30, 2010  |  Comments Off

HP announced its new CEO will start November 1, calling on Léo Apotheker, formerly with SAP. The question is, how will he change HP?

To understand this, I asked a few colleagues how they viewed Mr. Apotheker. The answer is that his bias lies towards sales and marketing. So what does this mean?

First, SAP operates at the business leader level. It sells to the CIO and above. HP, on the other hand, proliferates in the functional parts of IT, with no significant business leader engagement above the CIO.

There’s opportunity here, for sure.

One of the biggest challenges I see for HP is to increase its top line revenues. Mark Hurd’s transformational cost cutting and operational focus brought profitability across the company, but HP’s low-level sales engagements and engineering culture made growing revenues a challenge. By way of example, HP has no executive vice president of sales – the function is distributed across the business units.

So, I expect to see an EVP of sales appointed, centralizing sales and marketing, goaled with stepping up executive relationships and coordinating HP’s value proposition. We’ll also see a focus on selling to vertical industries, complementing HP’s product strategy (check out the SAP web site).

The other piece of the puzzle is, where does HP go next? The company is building a portfolio of cloud technologies, but the clear message is on cutting the cost of computing, rather than enabling its customers to deliver new, innovative services. So I also expect to see a new focus on “cloud for business leaders” – strategies and products that sell to the CIO and above. HP also distributes its software across the organization. HP’s strategic software is a very small piece of the company, but has the greatest potential for growth when leveraged with HP’s global reach. So I’d bet on an EVP of Software, and I’d be  thrilled to see it cast as a cloud role.

Such an approach, executed successfully, will meaningfully increase HP’s revenues and profits. It won’t be easy: HP’s engineering-centric culture will struggle with direction from a central sales and marketing organization. And HP’s strategic software is a tiny part of its overall business – organic growth won’t be sufficient. On the other hand, HP is not constrained by a legacy applications business, and has an opportunity to reinvent itself as a provider of really new ideas.

So Mr. Apotheker comes in with opportunity, promise and challenge. How HP changes will be interesting to watch.

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Mark Hurd Resigns from HP

by Martin Reynolds  |  August 6, 2010  |  3 Comments

The facts behind Mark Hurd’s resignation are clearly of a personal nature and not a topic for discussion. The question is, how will HP address the challenge and opportunity that replacing Mark Hurd represents?

Mr. Hurd drove an amazing turnaround at HP, driving a focus on measurement and results that transformed the company into a cost control machine. However, Mr. Hurd’s approach branded HP as a low-cost supplier, suppressing the image of the company as an innovator (this is much better than being an unprofitable innovator). I don’t expect HP’s operational discipline to fade. Mr. Hurd achieved that result through his leadership team, and they will continue to execute his plan.

Given the operational foundation that Mr. Hurd built, HP has the opportunity to bring in a new leader who can take HP to the next stage. The company needs to be recognized by consumers as a cool brand, a company that makes products that you have to have. And there’s no immediate pressure to do this, so the board has time to make the right choice for the future of HP – and its future customers.

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Nissan’s Electric Car Shows Green Isn’t Easy

by Martin Reynolds  |  August 6, 2009  |  2 Comments

Nissan’s LEAF electric vehicle is a remarkable achievement, but our interest lies in the simple carbon arithmetic that surrounds the vehicle. Before we go there, we note that electric drivetrain, battery and controller components will reshape the auto industry over the next decade.

The vehicle has a reported range of 100 miles, of a 24kWh battery. If we assume the average U.S. emissions factor for electricity generation of 1.34 pounds per kilowatt hour, charging the battery has an implicit emission of 32 pounds, or 0.32 pounds per mile. In practice, a complete 24kWh charge will require about 20 percent more input energy because of battery cycle efficiency, voltage drops, and converter efficiency. Therefore, a reasonable emissions estimate is 0.38 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile.

Now, an 18 mile per gallon vehicle emits about a pound of carbon dioxide per mile – so we can see that the LEAF is equivalent to a gas-powered fossil fuel vehicle that gets about 47 mpg. The Toyota Prius hybrid already achieves 48MPG. And the Honda Insight, a conventional lightly hybrid vehicle, achieves 40MPG.

Using data from the DoE,  we can demonstrate how emissions efficiency vary by region. Note that these numbers are aggregates, and there will be significant regional variations.

State Equivalent Emissions rate

Average             45 mpg

California          98 mpg

Texas                41 mpg

Idaho           2,000 mpg (Idaho has minimal fossil fuel)

So we observe:

1) The vehicle has no tailpipe, but is capable of creating plenty of emissions elsewhere.

2) To impact emissions, the vehicle is most effective in low-carbon areas.

3) On average, hybrid vehicles are better – but this isn’t about averages. It is about cutting peaks.

4) Further deployment of renewable and nuclear energy will make electric cars much more attractive – in a few decades.

As noted, green isn’t easy.

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EU Responds to Microsoft’s Un-Browser Plan

by Martin Reynolds  |  June 12, 2009  |  2 Comments

That was quick. The EU shot out a release stating that removing the browser provides the consumer with less choice than shipping a Microsoft browser, at least in the case of the few percent of buyers who buy Windows at retail. I guess that means that European consumers lost the choice to not use the Microsoft product. Microsoft will have to watch out for not shipping other products that it does not make.

The Commission notes that the computer manufacturers are now free to install any browser they choose – and they have to make a choice, even if they previously did not care. As I noted yesterday, IE is the easiest choice for them, and it is easy for their customers to load an alternative browser, if they care. But that approach will likely fail to satisfy the commission, given the content of the release.

The EU’s proposal of a ballot screen (actually, it seems to be Opera’s proposal) , which will force Microsoft to enforce a selection of alternative browsers through the PC manufacturers, is interesting but seems to fail certain tests of soundness. Who decides which browsers go on the screen and when can they be deleted? Can I write my own browser and demand that Microsoft include it? What about Lynx? Does Microsoft have to include contractual terms that force OEMs to buy competing software? Will there be dawn raids and secret agreements found in the shadows?

The economics of the technology business are tricky because of the rapid transition rates. Competition is defined by innovation as much as pricing. An innovative browser – if it offers material and meaningful advantages over the competition – will sweep thorough the market.

However, in the presence of competitor complaints, a dominant market share, and consumers that don’t seem to care, the Commission is struggling to find a sensible remedy. Now, was that ballot or bailout…

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Microsoft and the EU Commission

by Martin Reynolds  |  June 12, 2009  |  1 Comment

It is a good thing that Microsoft has deep cash reserves, given that the EU Commission is about to make a decision on how much to fine the company for including IE with its Windows product. The commission is an expensive and unforgiving master. European taxpayers have already benefited from over $2B in fines from Microsoft, stemming from  its anticompetitive position in the Media Player market (iTunes, anyone?).

Microsoft has a simple, premeptive  answer: it will ship Windows without IE in Europe. Selling a computer without a browser is not practical, so the OEMs will have  to load a browser. Loading IE is probably the lowest cost path for the OEMs, there’s no need to explain to customers where the Internet went. But that seems to take us full circle, with the OEMs cast in the role of proxy market  manipulator. How the EU interprets Microsoft’s move will be interesting.

An implication of the EU position is that Europeans don’t really know where to find Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Opera on the Internet. The alternative interpretation – that they don’t really care – would not support an antitrust action.

The EU antitrust actions could be interpreted as trade barriers designed to shield local interests, based on the contrast between U.S. and EU antitrust practices. Such an interpretation is unthinkable right now, but political and economic conditions can change quickly.

We are set for some interesting activity on the antitrust front. Think about it as a cost of being too successful in Europe. And watch for changes in the U.S. approach

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Which Processors Will Last Through 2020?

by Martin Reynolds  |  April 1, 2009  |  4 Comments

Now’s a great time to be thinking about the future of computing processor architectures. We have five mainstream survivors of the first 50 years of computing – S/360 (1964); x86 (1979); SPARC (1987);  Power (1990); and Itanium (2001). I have five retired architectures in mind: VAX (1977); 68000 (1980); MIPS (1985); PowerPC (1992) and Alpha (1992). Yes, I know that PPC is still appearing in supercomputers and game consoles, but without Apple it is out of the mainstream.

 

Note that technical superiority does not define success: execution of the business model is the primary determinant. Both the S/360 and the x86 architectures are cranky artifacts of the days when assembler was the only way to program, but they are two likely to stand through the next 20 years.

 

 

So, first, did I miss any architectures? The reasons for demise, and the ultimate resting place, of the retired architectures are interesting pointers for the future.

 

Then, which of the five current architectures are most likely to make it through 2020? I have my own ideas, but am interested in yours.

 

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