Whitman: Firms must prepare for "technology 9/11"

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Meg Whitman has used the first day of the HP Software Universe event in central London to reaffirm its commitments to cloud, big data and security.

In a wide-ranging keynote, the HP chief executive said she had learned a lot during her first eight months in charge.

At some point, there will be a technology 9/11. A cyber attack of great scale on our systems and infrastructure

"I wondered what I might find [when I joined] HP because the kind of turmoil HP has been through, with the CEO changes and trauma in the boardroom. [All that] can be hard on employees, customers and partners," she said. "But I have to tell you, I have fallen in love with HP."

She also revealed the company is "betting big" on cloud, security and big data analytics, as well as making the company as easy as possible for end users to deal with.

"We're simplifying the way we go to market, [how] we serve customers and we are simplifying our portfolio and products," said Whitman.

"When you reduce complexity, you have the opportunity to achieve the Holy Grail in business, which is increase quality and reduce cost."

She claimed the firm is already ahead of its rivals in the cloud, explaining that HP Autonomy is responsible for managing 50PB of data in the private cloud.

"We are the leader in cloud. The HP cloud system is leading in private cloud, with almost 600 customer implementations and as a foundation for many service providers," she added.

Security is an area that is also "front of mind" for both IT decision makers and HP, added Whitman.

"With the influx of mobility and cloud, the access points [to businesses] are now infinite. Threats have become sophisticated, persistent and unpredictable," said Whitman.

"An enterprise can never be completely secure. Hackers will also work out how to break the locks."

As a result, she said companies need to invest in IT security tools that provide insight across a mix of cloud and on-premise environments.

"In my view, at some point, there will be a technology 9/11. A cyber attack of great scale on our systems and infrastructure," she warned. "We will darken the skies with the magnitude of our response and we will work to your agenda, not ours."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.