HP Details Adaptive Enterprise Strategy

By Clint Boulton

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HP turned the afterburners on its push to corral more high-end computing market share Tuesday with the unveiling of its "Adaptive Enterprise" strategy. At the heart of this lies utility computing services and software.

The initiative, a broadening and deepening of its adaptive infrastructure strategy on the one-year anniversary of its purchase of Compaq, is aimed at helping companies and chief information officers get the IT infrastructure they need at a pay-as-you-go price point. IBM, Sun Microsystems, Computer Associates and Veritas have all pledged allegiance to similar strategies, which industry experts say will usher in a new era of competitive computing.

Several executives will be on hand at the event in San Jose, Calif. Tuesday to hawk the strategy, which includes three new services, including business agility metrics, new virtualization software for automated resource utilization and new self-healing software for HP OpenView that address technical issues before machines go down, a practice also known as autonomic computing.

HP said BEA Systems will help guide its Adaptive Application Architecture service initiative for Web services platforms, as well as work with Cisco Systems to make sure the Adaptive Network Architecture has solid infrastructure.

HP has also crafted a framework for creating a business process infrastructure designed to automatically adjust to changes in the business, dubbed the Darwin Reference Architecture.

The Palo, Alto Calif. computing giant also said the ink is dry on its $3 billion managed services agreement with Procter & Gamble and signed up Alcatel and Sprint for services and technology contracts.

HP already has much of its on-demand technology in place in the form of its Utility Data Center initiative, of which two new systems were unveiled in Palo Alto and Bristol, U.K. today. The HP UDC makes it possible to virtualize data center resources such as servers, networking, storage and applications and reallocate them according to need.

Until today HP had yet to formally announce structure for it the way IBM, Computer Associates and most recently Veritas have.

HP can take some comfort in the fact that some analysts have declared HP the leader thus far. However, first movers don't always make winners and many analysts have said it will take years before this space will shakeout the pretenders.

"This is," said Forrester Research analyst Richard Fichera, "a major and long-term battle for the management of the enterprise resources, and as OS and hardware platforms become increasingly commoditized, this level of management will become a major competitive battleground. However, at this point in time it is still relatively embryonic, and in some senses is as much about a battle for the perception of leadership as it is about actual delivered products."

"Improving business agility is a strategic priority for CIOs," said Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP Services. "Our customers want to drive competitive advantage with an IT environment that dynamically adapts and evolves with constantly changing business needs. The services we announced today provide our customers with an innovative, yet pragmatic approach to designing, implementing and operating business processes, applications and their supporting IT infrastructure."

HP has already packaged 10 Adaptive Enterprise solutions, which include hardware, software, services and partnerships. They address enterprise integration; IT consolidation; management; virtualization; business continuity; and security; the other four let customers deal with on demand solutions; managed services; integrated support; and financing.

HP offered some foreshadowing of what was to come last week when it realigned its enterprise business structure into different segments.