Fiorina pitches acquisition at AppsWorld

Hewlett-Packard Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina continued extolling the virtues of a merged HP and Compaq on Monday during a keynote address at the start of Oracle's AppsWorld conference in San Diego.

While HP awaits certification of last month's shareholder vote on the acquisition and the outcome of a Walter Hewlett-backed lawsuit that seeks to block the union, Fiorina offered Oracle customers a spiel similar to the one she has presented repeatedly to HP analysts and shareholders throughout the past few months.

The future of the IT industry is commoditized hardware and standards-based software, Fiorina told AppsWorld attendees.

"Web sites and Web-based applications now offer functionality that was previously the domain of monolithic applications," she said. "The business cycle no longer supports custom-built hardware and software."

Facing this "tectonic" shift, IT vendors have two choices: Narrow their offerings and specialize, or broaden their portfolios and offer clients end-to-end hardware, software and services packages. HP saw the writing on the wall, chose the latter option and decided that joining forces with Compaq was the best and quickest route, Fiorina said.

After working through the oft-recited list of reasons why HP believes acquiring Compaq will benefit both investors and customers, Fiorina emphasized her certainty that HP's executive team will be able to defy historical patterns and successfully manage the complex integration. HP and Compaq employees have now clocked over 1 million hours on integration planning, she said.

While most of Fiorina's speech related to the HP/Compaq saga, she also touched on HP's relationship with Oracle and the two firms' mutual dependence.

More than 70 percent customers using HP-UX, HP's Unix system, run Oracle applications, and 95 percent of HP's outsourcing customers use Oracle technology, she said. HP is itself a major Oracle customer: In 1999, it consolidated more than two dozen ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications and several hundred regional applications into one Oracle CRM (customer relationship management) system, a feat Fiorina joked should make HP a poster child in Oracle's advertising campaigns.

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