HP Outlines Web Services Investments

By Erin Joyce

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Carly Fiorina, the chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, unveiled new investments in the tech vendor's Web Services products by extending its OpenView management tools -- all while managing to get in some shots at its rival IBM.

In the process, she signaled HP's realignment of a major suite of IT management software with open standards and application integration that help underline the Web Services movement in the tech industry.

In a keynote speech Monday at BEA's eWorld technology conference in Florida, Fiorina unveiled new initiatives to extend HP's OpenView software suite to platforms built on both Sun's J2EE development environment, and Microsoft's .NET environment.

She also said the company would be committing more resources to open source and interoperability consortia, and would boost the number of HP consultants committed to Web services features.

All the new investments and features in HP's OpenView suite, including transaction engines and enterprise diagnostic tools, reflect an increasingly close alliance between HP and BEA, she said. For example, all the new features in OpenView are built on BEA's WebLogic platform.

HP's Linux-based server sales have surged as Linux open source operating systems continue to gain a toehold in mid-range data centers across enterprise networks. As such, HP's latest commitment to adopting Web Services protocols and open standards methods in its IT management and diagnostic software lines reflects the company's move to seize on management of the adoption of Web Services protocols, as well as managing the automated applications and transactions that are a part of Web Services.

In her four-part speech, she said HP first plans to dedicate more consulting staff to focus on making sure that OpenView tools are continually integrated with Web Services interoperability protocols, such as XML, WSML, and UDDI.

Second, she said HP and BEA have created a Web services management and deployment practice within HP's consulting division. The goal is to focus solely on building Web Services applications on the J2EE platform, Sun's Java-centric development environment for Web-based applications. (The commitment is similar to a .NET-focused practice that HP carved out in its consulting ranks last fall, she said.)

"Within HP Services, we already have more than 450 consultants trained to help on J2EE," she said. "By the end of 2003, that force will be more than 1,000, and focused on repeatable J2EE" applications.

Third, she unveiled a new Web Services management engine as part of OpenView, that "actively manage the Web services, as opposed to the management platform where the service resides. With that we can now deliver response time monitoring and diagnostics to simplify management of any service-driven environment."

For example, she said, HP's OpenView Transaction Analyzer features BEA-built API's that monitor application transactions; HP and BEA also collaborated on OpenView Smart Plug-ins for monitorng and managing BEA WebLogic servers, she said.

HP also plans to make a "major contribution" of standards (code for software code) to the open source community, "with no strings attached," she said. "We'll even let our competitors use it." In addition, she said the new Web Services management frameworks she outlined would be presented to standards and interoperability group OASIS within the next few months.

We're committed to working with BEA and others to make Web Services Management a reality, she said. "We're aggressively targeting the Linux market. So when it comes to the relationship between HP and BEA, interoperability and choice are not just buzzwords but competitive advantages."

With that, she took aim at WebLogic's main competitor in the middleware realm, IBM's own line of e-business middleware called Websphere.

Fiorina said IBM's Websphere consists of 344 non-integrated products, "which means they all need to be hard-coded in order to work together" in an operating environment. The last three versions of Websphere software releases also have three different code bases, "each of which require a different skill set."

She said customers would pay an average of $12 in IBM services for every $1 they spend on IBM's software, as a result of the different coding needs with each Websphere version. She argued that its support of more operating systems and environments by contrast brings HP's total cost of ownership on OpenView/WebLogic to about half that, or between $6 and $7 for every dollar spent on software.

"You've all read a lot of the current hype of Web Services," she said Monday, about the shift in the industry with how companies deploy and manage their software assets across a heterogeneous environment. "We want to make sure Web Services don't fall victim to proprietary fiefdoms." In addition, "management is the next barrier to Web Services," said Fiorina.