New HP CEO Meg Whitman: Will eBay Experience Help HP Cloud Push?

Now that HP has named Meg Whitman president and CEO, Talkin' Cloud wonders: Can Whitman leverage her eBay experience to get Hewlett-Packard's cloud services strategy in order? Under former HP CEO Leo Apotheker, we were underwhelmed by HP's cloud efforts. In early 2011, Apotheker predicted that HP would compete against Apple iTunes, Amazon Web Services and other big commercial cloud platforms. But we never really got a feel for what would make HP "unique" in the cloud market.

Perhaps Whitman can find the answer -- but it's going to require some work. For starters, HP has suffered from numerous media leaks and strategic changes in 2011. Also, HP Chairman Ray Lane has been busy defending how HP's board has managed its own responsibilities over the past year.

Right now, HP's cloud strategy is vastly focused on infrastructure and data center hardware. Instead of developing its forthcoming public cloud platform in-house, HP is building it on top of the OpenStack platform. That's not a bad play, but it speaks to how HP is largely attempting to leverage its hardware expertise in the cloud market and leave development of the major leaps in software and services to outside parties.

But over her ten years at eBay, Whitman grew the company from 30 employees and $4 million in revenue to 15,000 employees and $8 billion. And that was entirely built on top of eBay's web commerce and SaaS expertise. While the old eBay-Skype combo didn't really end up paying off for eBay, it definitely speaks to Whitman's propensity for what Google might call a 100% web approach.

So this is pure speculation, but I'd not be surprised at all if Whitman refocuses HP's cloud efforts to play to her strengths: namely web-based applications and social portals. And rest assured, we'll continue to watch HP's cloud moves closely.

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