HP’s Autonomy buy: How to do an IBM

Apotheker was fairly clear about HP's plans for the future and how Autonomy fits into them.

"Together with Autonomy, we plan to reinvent how both unstructured and structured data is processed, analysed, optimised, automated and protected," the CEO said. "Autonomy has an attractive business model, including a strong cloud based solution set, which is aligned with HP's efforts to improve our portfolio mix."

This strategy shift has impressed analysts, even though HP will come under fire from some corners for ditching consumer hardware so swiftly.

"Given they will now completely focus on enterprise rather than consumer, HP should be providing more concentrated collective effort on execution of its single strategy," Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal told IT Pro

Autonomy itself will bring plenty of value to HP's BI offerings as well, analysts believe.

Make no mistake, this is a long-term move.

"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," said Ovum analyst Mike Davis.

Make no mistake, this is a long-term move. HP will have to deal with criticism for ditching webOS consumer devices just a month after releasing the TouchPad and less than two years after buying Palm for $1.2 billion. Moving away from hardware so suddenly could also make it seem somewhat fickle, given its previous commitments to the PC business and webOS. HP wanted to include the latter into all of its future hardware. Revenue losses from ditching those divisions will also cause short-term damage.

Shareholders might be a little concerned about the amount of money HP has spent on Autonomy too.

"HP paid an enormous amount for Autonomy almost 12 times trailing revenues and a 64 per cent premium to Autonomy's closing stock price and used 80 per cent of its available cash to make the buy," said Craig Carpenter, vice president and general counsel at data management firm Recommind. "These are mind-boggling statistics that will exert a great deal of pressure on HP to make the transaction jumpstart growth immediately."

Looking further ahead, however, it would be no surprise to see HP financials performing much better. It took IBM some time to start seeing real monetary rewards from its strategy shift, it will take HP time too.

Somewhat ironically, of course, HP's announcements mean it is going after more of IBM's customers.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.