HP's top software exec resigns

The top software executive at Hewlett-Packard Co. announced her resignation Tuesday for personal reasons, with her departure effective Dec. 9.

Nora Denzel, senior vice president and general manager of the company's Software Global Business Unit, has been at HP since 2000. She will be replaced temporarily by Todd DeLaughter, senior vice president and general manager of HP's OpenView Business Unit, according to HP spokeswoman Stacey Hoskin. Denzel was not accepting questions from reporters, and HP had no further explanation for her departure.

Denzel's responsibilities have included oversight of OpenView and OpenCall, HP software that is used by telecommunications service providers.

Hoskin said HP's software business is "healthy" and was profitable for the 2005 fiscal year. Revenues for the unit Denzel oversaw topped US$1 billion in 2005, according to analysts and financial records. HP's OpenView software, which is focused on systems management for large enterprises, competes against software from IBM Tivoli, BMC and Computer Associates International, as well as numerous smaller companies.

Two HP software employees who asked not be named described Denzel's departure as disturbing, coming in the wake of recent layoffs at the company and other executive departures this year.

Rich Ptak, an analyst at Ptak Noel & Associates in Amherst, N.H., said Denzel's departure is surprising. But he added that Denzel had been expected to leave the company shortly after HP CEO Carly Fiorina left in February, as Denzel was "clearly part of Carly's circle."

Her departure, Ptak said, has the potential to be "disruptive to HP's software operations, unless HP has somebody to fill the position quickly." He said Denzel was effective as a top manager but "still was never able to clear up HP's messaging about software." He said that HP has shown more of a tendency to sell software products rather than ways for businesses to solve problems -- something IBM, BMC and CA have done.

HP CEO Mark Hurd and DeLaughter have both tried to reassure customers that HP remains committed to developing new systems management software and that HP has no plans to sell off its software unit.

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