When Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) announces Q4 2012 financial results on Nov. 20, CEO Meg Whitman will likely describe the state of HP hardware, software and IT services. Whitman has already bought some time by announcing an earnings expectations reset back in October. But now she needs to show some tangible progress. HP Cloud Services would be a great place to start.

UPDATE: HP's earnings call was a train wreck, derailed by an alleged accounting scandal at Autonomy. The accounting misinformation occured before HP acquired Autonomy in 2011, HP alleged. Here are the details.

HP launched its public cloud and converged cloud strategies back in April 2012. So it's doubtful Whitman can point to any sizeable cloud services revenues at the present time.

The initial HP Cloud services include:

  • HP Cloud Object Storage for backup and archival, disaster recovery and central storage.
  • HP Cloud Compute for hosting services.
  • HP Cloud Test and Dev for developers.

The mainstream press claims HP is seeking to counter Amazon Web Services, which will host its first partner conference -- called AWS re:Invent -- later this month in Las Vegas. But I'm a bit more pragmatic: Before HP attempts to take on cloud computing's reigning king, the company has to prove to existing partners and customers that it's truly in the cloud services game.

HP, no doubt, is trying to undergoe a serious business transformation. The company needs to shore up its existing PC and server businesses, fix its Autonomy software effort, and stabilize its IT services business -- anchored by the former EDS.

No doubt Whitman faces pressure on each of those fronts. But while she talks about fixing HP's existing businesses, it would be great for Whitman to weave in some messages of hope and progress for HP Cloud services.

We'll be listening for clues during the Nov. 20 earnings call.