HP silent on server delays

Australian IT managers are still in the dark this week over whether supply chain shortages dogging some Hewlett-Packard ProLiant servers will spread to antipodean shores following the revelation of delivery delays of up to seven weeks in the US.

According to US reports, HP is advising customers the delivery delays are the result of a shortage of smaller ML 350 (36GB, 15k-rpm) hard drives for the ProLiant line, while larger drives are readily available.

When approached by Computerworld, Australian HP representatives said they were restricted as to what they could say because of an enforced "quiet period" prior to the release of quarterly financial results.

A local statement from HP said only that supply and demand must be balanced, adding that this balance is a natural part of the business and reflects strong customer acceptance of HP's ProLiant servers.

Unimpressed by the hard-drive or demand-side arguments, some analysts are pointing the finger at a trouble ERP and supply chain rollout at HP, provided in part by German application behemoth SAP. Described in August 2004 by HP as "more disruptive than planned", "unacceptable" and "executed poorly", the crisis left a $US400 million crater in HP's revenues and saw three of its top executives sacked. HP has since publicly taken the blame for the problems, saying the issues stemmed from internal HP legacy systems rather than SAP.

Kevin McIsaac, Meta Group research director, said that based on prior problems, and the fact he had heard nothing about a shortage of hard drives, he could only assume HP's delivery delays are more likely to be related to issues surrounding HP's SAP system.

"HP had a big bloodletting, and the official story was ...a bungled SAP implementation... as a result order processing became a problem and they couldn't ship servers," McIsaac said.

Local SAP representatives are doing their level best to distance themselves from HP's supply issues. SAP Australia New Zealand marketing and alliances director, Len Augustine, said he has not heard anything in regards to the HP issue and said the supply problems "could be due to anything".

IDC hardware analyst, Michael Sager, said the problem is yet to hit Australian shores. However, Sager noted CPUs are in "far [greater] shortage in the Asia-Pacific" than hard discs.

Managing director of reseller Computercorp, Mike Rickers, said he has seen no delays in shipping of the HP ProLiant series to Australia as yet.

"I don't know of any delays. We have just finished some big national rollouts - I have not seen anything [of the shortages] in the procurement and rollout stage," Rickers said.

In the US, HP spokesperson Don Gentile said earlier supply chain problems "are now behind us and generically, the company can face supply and demand issues in any quarter."

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