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Compaq users angry, concerned about HP acquisition

Many Compaq users are not at all happy about Hewlett-Packard's acquisition and many are bracing themselves for rough times ahead.

Here's a sure way to get IT administrators really angry. Tell them that the computer company they source with and the equipment they use faces an uncertain future. And then, to get them steaming mad, be evasive about the details.

Hewlett-Packard's announcement earlier this week that it would purchase Compaq Computer Corp., was not only a shock to users, but some say a big slap in the face, particularly to those managing Compaq shops.

And, the fact that HP was less than forthcoming with information regarding how it would merge products and services, just added salt to the wound, users said.

Michael Capellas, chairman and CEO of Compaq, who will be president of the new HP, said at a press conference Tuesday that there would be simplification of the product line, but he did not give details. He said that more information would follow in the coming weeks.

While HP users barely raised an eyebrow, users of Compaq servers and storage systems said they are finding it difficult to comprehend how HP could possibly maintain the integrity of Compaq products and services. Upshot: The move could be nothing but trouble.

The consensus among users is that HP doesn't have the management infrastructure or talent to pull off a successful merger and therefore, Compaq, as they know it, is doomed.

"I think this could be a set back for users," said David Frazier, senior project manager, Bayshore Technologies, Tampa, Fla. "The pain of this merger is going to cause a lot of doubt and uncertainty. I don't know if it's the best time for this."

Clearly, the unknown is what has some users up in arms.

"A million things have been going through my mind," said Joseph Breslin, senior manager of network services and technical support, North Arundel Hospital, Glen Burnie, M.D. "What's going to happen to my Unix box, future purchases and services? Right now, I haven't a clue."

To some, it's the certainty that HP is going to make a mess of things that they find frustrating.

"I don't like it a bit," said Chip Register, senior vice president and CIO, Resource Bancshares Mortgage Group, Inc., Columbia, S.C. "I don't like the fact that Mike Capellas is going to take a back sheet to Fiorina. Fiorinia doesn't impress me at all. I think they're going to muck the whole thing up. So what if they're going to be the next IBM. If it sounds like I'm frustrated, it's because I am."

While it's apparent that Compaq users are the ones that are smarting the most from the move, there are some users who prefer to think of the cup as half full.

In fact, in a recent poll of HP, storage and server users, the consensus was that the move, while painful at first, will benefit most users in the long run.

"I am concerned that the consolidation go well, that HP successfully chooses the best of both companies. Since I believe that they will, I expect to see a stronger, better HP," Gregory Stigers, senior consultant CGI USA and HP user.

Compaq user Troy Olson echoed Stigers sentiments. "They have products that compete head to head in the server world and storage world, so I guess from that standpoint, I would imagine, they'd leverage technology to make it better. I think it would be in their best interest to do so," said Olson, a server analyst and team leader with Hutchinson Technology, Hutchinson, M.N.

Olson said he's hopeful things will work out favorable for Compaq users because he says he doesn't think HP would want to drive a stake in their products. "HP bought market share with Compaq; Compaq was gaining momentum. HP has good offerings on the market side, Compaq may be falling short there. So if one leverages the others it would be good."


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