HP Views Adaptive Enterprise As 'Uber OS'

By Michael Singer

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Keeping the heat on their utility computing rivals, Hewlett-Packard Tuesday outlined sweeping changes to its Adaptive Enterprise platform including new software offerings, strategic partnerships and an IP acquisition.

At an event in Hamburg, Germany, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer and printer maker introduced more than 40 new management services and software products to help customers manage their heterogeneous server rooms and data centers. The new software offerings are part of HP's Adaptive Enterprise strategy, which the company launched back in May. The idea is to create this operating system to power several operating systems such as UNIX, Linux and Windows to let companies apply virtualization, provisioning and policies to their management software.

HP senior vice president for Adaptive Enterprise Nora Denzel characterized the software as an "uber-OS".

"We don't believe there will be anymore IT projects. There will only be business projects that have IT components," Denzel said during a conference call. "We want you to think of Adaptive as the same way you are used to thinking of an operating system on a desktop. You can't buy an Adaptive Enterprise from HP -- you build one. We have not met one customer yet that says they get all of their hardware or software from one vendor. The uber-OS does the job in the same way a desktop OS does in that there is a tradeoff of the power behind the CPUs and the networking capabilities. We feel, if you are going to link your IT to your business processes, you have to link it to your IT gear and the people that they interface with.

Based mostly on its OpenView platform, HP rolled out its new IT Service Management (ITSM) software. Previously code-named Nimbus, the offerings include ITSM Certification for Service Providers, Global Service Desk with eSupport, HP Mission Critical Partnership, HP ITSM Best Practices for HP OpenView Service Desk, Agility Assessment Services for IT Service Providers, HP Systems Insight Manager, HP OpenView Management Integration Platform, HP OpenView Select Access, HP OpenView Operations and HP Web Jetadmin version 7.5.

Analysts say HP is ahead of the curve in terms of vision, solutions and architecture.

"The adaptive infrastructure that HP has laid out is impressive and clearly leads the market place as it is focused on the technology and infrastructure components," Forrester senior analyst Julie Giera told internetnews.com. The strengths of the offering are the technical components - the weaknesses here are the fact that HP - unlike IBM - has to rely on its partners like Deloitte, Bearing Point, Accenture for the business process/applications stuff. In fact, for HP's adaptive infrastructure to really work, HP has to look at the entire customer environment - the strategic goals of their customer, specific business problems, etc. and then the technology. Partnerships are always a problem since a company - like HP - cannot ensure that one of its partners won't get acquired."

The one thing Giera said has changed is HP's focus. Up until two months ago, HP led the marketplace in infrastructure services and outsourcing, leaving the majority of applications work to other firms.

"What happened, though, was that because of this almost exclusive focus on infrastructure, HP was not even considered in some of the mega-deals that had shown up on the radar screen," Giera said. "Customers are consolidating the service providers they use in the enterprise. The desire is for fewer providers that can deliver broader ranges of services."

While HP has traditionally combated IBM, Sun, BMC and Computer Associates in the on-demand computing space, the company will now have to deal with Dell. The Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker Tuesday unveiled server management tools that utilize new Microsoft software.

HP executive vice president Peter Blackmore called any comparison between HP's and Dell's software management strategies "apples and oranges".

"We have great respect for Dell, but they are not known for their management software," he said. "They are more of a distribution company. We have a complete systems approach that delivers Windows, Linux and UNIX. If Dell is working with Microsoft, they are only delivering Windows."

To help fortify its position, HP said it has "deepened" its strategic partnership with German CRM powerhouse SAP . The collaboration is designed to help joint customers manage their heterogeneous environments and will be based on HP's IT Service Management Reference Model and management solutions, and SAP IT Service & Application Management. Both organizations said they will offer joined services to their customers. HP in particular said it has 2,500 of its own professionals including 500 ITEL certified experts for servicing accounts and more than 60,000 people as part of its partner base that are trained to lend a hand.

"We have only 16 strategic partners of which SAP is a major one," Blackmore said. Some 48 percent of SAP software installations run on HP hardware. This is a deep and very important relationship."

HP says it is also strengthening its partnership with software vendors such as BEA, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, TIBCO and webMethods to jointly deliver enterprise solutions.

Currently HP spends $2.5 billion on Adaptive Enterprise-related R&D, which is about 60 percent of the company's total R&D budget. Of that $2.5 billion, Blackmore said 50 percent investments in software capabilities.

One of those investments is a proposal to acquire the assets of Persist Technologies. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based firm makes information lifecycle management (ILM) software designed for long-term storage and access of reference information. In addition to their technology, Denzel said Persist's engineers would be transferred to HP's ranks. The company said the acquisition is expected to resolve by the end of the year.

Bob Schultz, general manager of HP's networked storage business, told internetnews.com HP's interest in Persist is what the company brings to the table in terms of its ability to retrieve information quickly and accurately, breaking down various bits of information with its SmartCells approach to fetching reference documents such as e-mails, PDFs and PowerPoint presentations.

"We like their front-end archiving, including e-mail archiving and database archiving," said Schultz, who acknowledged that Persist has been one of HP's many partners to provide archiving capabilities for its information lifecycle management strategy. "But we don't know if they'd be around in 10 years, whereas we know HP will be, so we decided to bring their technology into what HP already has."

The Persist software portfolio also includes highly functional index, search and retrieval capabilities that make it possible to search and retrieve both structured and unstructured content. The search and retrieve capability is independent of the creating application and executed using a search engine-like interface.

HP has been methodically enhancing its Adaptive portfolio through acquisitions. Such was the case when the company recently purchased Baltimore Enterprises and Talking Blocks.