The former general manager of Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Azure silently jumped ship this summer and swam over to a competitor. Bill Hilf, who was responsible for introducing Microsoft to the open source software concept and who—up until June—was the Azure GM, joined HP (HPQ) over the summer to help guide the Palo Alto-based technology giant into a strong cloud player, something HP has been struggling with since it first got a taste of the cloud.
Hilf's departure from Microsoft wasn't announced, and it went mostly unnoticed until a Wired article that outlined the HP vice president's new role and his plans to build HP's cloud practice. It seems like another case of key Microsoft personnel abandoning the Redmond company in favor of greener pastures.
And as for HP, if you want to do things right, you might as well hire the man who helped build up your competition. Makes sense, right?
As Microsoft has become the No. 2 or No. 3 player (depending on whom you ask) in the cloud services market, HP's own cloud play has been some cause for concern. As Talkin' Cloud reported a few weeks ago, HP is unlikely to grow during 2014 and its cloud computing business showed little signs of growth during its fiscal third quarter.
It seems HP's SaaS and IaaS business is off to a weak start, and it's likely that Hilf has been tasked with turning around the troubled HP Enterprise Services business—in particular, its cloud computing business. As we noted in August, HP Enterprise Services is struggling, but HP is betting big on cloud in the hopes of turning around its fortunes.
Based on the Wired article, Hilf is optimistic about HP's cloud business and its potential for growth, even as it faces off against players Amazon (AMZN) Web Services, Google (GOOG) and Hilf's former employer.
It will be interesting to see if Hilf can turn HP's cloud business around, but even more importantly, we'll be watching closely how he chooses to work with HP's partners to grow the business. So far, HP hasn't exactly had a stellar record in that respect. You have your work cut out for you, Mr. Hilf.