Was The HP Leak A Publicity Stunt?

Was The HP Leak A Publicity Stunt?

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
– Andy Warhol (1928-1987), legendary American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker.

In 1968, Andy Warhol famously declared the universality, and temporary nature of fame that would, in his opinion, soon engulf the world. Now, it seems HP vice president and chief technologist of cloud services Scott McClellan seems to have achieved exactly that through his LinkedIn profile that “leaked” confidential details about the company’s cloud strategy.

To jog your memory, around two months back HP declared its intention to get on the cloud computing bandwagon, and in a big way; however, there weren’t many details forthcoming (See: HP Declares Ambitious Plans in Cloud Computing Space). Until Tuesday, May 3, that is.

On that day, McClellan, a HP veteran of over 25 years, decided to reveal a little more than the usual on his public LinkedIn page. Although this information was revealed as part of McClellan’s own responsibilities at HP, it ended up revealing a lot about the company’s plans in the cloud computing space. Although this information was removed as soon as news of this “leak” became public, the media had already captured it for posterity.

Here’s a lowdown on some of the information that was “leaked” out on LinkedIn as part of McClellan’s suite of responsibilities:

* HP “object storage service”: built from scratch, distributed system, designed to solve for cost, scale, and reliability without compromise.

* HP “compute”, “networking” and “block storage” service: an innovative and highly differentiated approach to cloud computing – a declarative/model-based approach where users often provide a specification and the system automates deployment and management.

* Common/shared service: User management, key management, identity management & federation, authentication (including multi-factor), authorization and auditing (AAA), billing/metering, alerting/logging, analytics.

* Website and User/Developer Experience. Future HP “cloud” website including public content and authenticated user content. APIs and language bindings for Java, Ruby and other open source languages. Fully-functional GUI and CLI (both Linux/UNIX and Windows).

* Quality assurance, code/design inspection processes, security and penetration testing.

Now, you may have noticed my use of quotation marks around the word “leak”. That is because, personally, there’s still some doubt about the belief that this was an unintentional release of information. After all, HP does not lose much of a strategic advantage by releasing this information (considering there are already multiple players using the same approaches); however, it does end up whipping up considerable interest in its new cloud-based services.

This doubt is reinforced by the rumor that HP was supposed to have announced this information at VMworld, the global technology conference organized by virtualization giant VMware and scheduled to be held in August. A span of three months is not much in terms of product development lifecycle, at least not enough to make long-term plans go awry. With this “leak” it is guaranteed that any HP event at VMworld will have a full house, and the full attention of the cloud computing industry.

Additionally, such a simple error from a veteran like McClellan is definitely unexpected. For someone who has been with the company since 1985 (as determined from his LinkedIn profile, still up but without the controversial information), this is behavior that goes completely against the grain. Of course, even veterans can make rookie mistakes, as Mark Hurd (of fudging expense accounts fame, and incidentally, also of HP) can attest.

Therefore, this “leak” may have been an actual leak, and not a publicity stunt. However, I guess we will have to wait years for the truth to emerge, perhaps in Scott McClellan’s memoirs.

By Sourya Biswas

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