Hewlett-Packard's new CEO, Leo Apotheker, says the company is betting big on the cloud. At an analyst event in San Francisco on Monday, he announced that HP will offer its own public cloud service.

Leo Apotheker, CEO, HP: "Not only will we help our customers transition to cloud through hybrid architectures, HP intends to build and run an HP cloud. We've launched infrastructure as a service for our enterprise customers, and we will be launching a public cloud offering in the near future."

HP also plans to open a marketplace that will include both applications and cloud-based services for enterprises, small businesses and consumers. To do so, the company will sharpen its focus on software, using the cloud to deliver specific functions such as advanced real-time analytics. Apotekar gave little detail on when most of these products will arrive, however.

During the keynote presentation, HP demonstrated an future appliance that will be based on technology from a recent HP acquisition, analytics company Vertica. The appliance churned through a wide variety of information in real time in order to find the optimal price for a car rental based on gas prices, the weather, and the customer's current driving record.

The key to HP's success in the cloud will be its size, both in being able to build a large infrastructure and being able to sell it through a big sales network, Apotheker said at a press conference.

"If you want to be in the cloud business, it has to be on a large scale, it has to be multilingual, you have to be able to serve customers everywhere."

Asked by several reporters how new HP will catch up with rivals such as IBM in cloud computing, analytics and some other areas, Apotheker grew a bit defensive.

"So, with all due respect, I happen to disagree. I don't think we're playing catch up to anyone, certainly not when it comes to IBM."

The company's new software push won't hurt its relationship with Microsoft, Apotekar said. Nor will including both Windows and WebOS on some PCs, which HP plans to start doing around the end of this year. But he indicated Windows isn't ready yet for tablets.

"We will be shipping WebOS tablets, but we will also be shipping Windows tablets. We just need the right version of Windows to do that."

HP's stock has been lagging the overall market since the resignation of former CEO Mark Hurd, Apotheker's predecessor. But Apotekar said he believes the company is on the right track.

"I do believe, based on what I've been doing over the last four months or so, that it's probably the first time HP has been trying to put all of the elements of what it's doing together."