HP cloud chief’s exit sparks more confusion

Updated: Hewlett-Packard’s (s HPQ) attempt to get its cloud computing strategy heard above the noise around the company’s bigger woes took another hit this week.  Zorawar “Biri” Singh, who headed up HP’s Converged Cloud and Cloud Services effort, is gone, according to AllThingsD. He will be replaced on an interim basis by Roger Levy,  group VP for technology and customer relations.
HP logoThe news muddies HP’s already unclear cloud situation, although Singh’s departure is not all that surprising. He was recruited out of IBM (s IBM) two years ago by HP’s then-CEO Leo Apotheker. Apotheker himself was axed by HP less than a year into his tenure, replaced by current CEO Meg Whitman.
Last September, citing an internal memo, CRN reported that HP had formed a Converged Cloud business unit under the leadership of SVP Saar Gillai, who reported to Singh. Last week, AllThingsD re-reported  the formation of that group, but said Gillai reported to HP COO Bill Veghte. There was no mention of Singh.
Updated at 6:52 a.m. January 17: An HP spokeswoman emailed this statement:

“HP remains committed to our Converged Cloud portfolio. In particular, HP Cloud Services is critical to HP’s efforts to deliver superior public cloud infrastructure, services and solutions to our customers. Roger Levy, vice president, Technology and Customer Operations of HP Cloud Services, will serve as the interim leader for HP Cloud Services. The company thanks Zorawar ‘Biri’ Singh for his passion and commitment to drive our public cloud vision and wish him well.”

She also confirmed the AllThingsD report, saying that HP  announced the formation of a “pan-HP organization dedicated to overseeing the company’s full range of HP Converged Cloud offerings” last week and promoted Saar Gillai to Senior Vice President and General Manager of HP Converged Cloud.
HP, which could not be reached for comment, has been hindered by bigger issues around its costly Autonomy acquisition and plateauing PC-and-server business, and has struggled to make its vision of enterprise-class cloud heard above the competition. In an interview last year, Singh told me the company could differentiate itself from other public and private cloud providers by offering the types of high-level and specific service level agreements (SLAs) that Amazon(s amzn) Web Services and other cloud providers do not.
It’s easy to write HP off after all its management chaos and poorly handled acquisitions. In its proxy statement last month, the company reopened the possibility of selling off business units. Since then, speculation has amped up that it might even sell off Autonomy — which it bought in 2011 for more than $11 billion — and Enterprise Services unit, which grew out of its 2008 $13.9 billion buyout of EDS. But, the company still has many, many large, enterprise accounts, many of which have barely tested the cloud computing scenario. If it gets its act together any time soon, those companies may stay with the program. If not … well that’s the multi-billion-dollar question.
This story was updated at 6:52 a.m. with comments from HP.