HP expands OpenView product group

MIAMI BEACH – Hewlett-Packard‘s software division has announced more additions to its already lengthy OpenView portfolio of enterprise management applications.

At its annual Software Forum here the company announced DecisionCentre, which can run “what-if” scenarios to help organizations decide how to place IT resources; Application Insight 7.0, for discovering and monitoring applications; and AssetCentre 5.0, which can automate asset management.

All will be available later this year.

While OpenView already comprises some 75 products or modules, company executives told customers and partners here that more are coming either through internal development or acquisition.

“We have very aggressive plans to lead this market,” Thomas Hogan, senior vice-president of the division said Tuesday in his keynote address.

“We have the brand, the reach and the financial resources,” he said.

Ross Armstrong, an analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group, said the new products “seem like a step in the right direction in that they’re fleshing out the OpenView portfolio. But it’s also acknowledging the problem with IT complexity.”

The announcements come as HP Software, which includes the OpenView line and OpenCall telco products, has shown sudden spunk along with the rest of the company. In the past year the division has been profitable for the first time (making about US$330 million a quarter), in part justifying new CEO Mark Hurd’s demand that newcomer Hogan — who joined HP only 100 days ago — aggressively grow revenues. Along with sprightly performance in hardware sales, some analysts think Hewlett Packard Co. will pull in more total revenue this year than rival IBM Corp.

Long the poor cousin of Hewlett-Packard’s empire behind the profitable printers, servers, PCs and storage, the company’s software division has recently begun getting dressed up with the arrival of Hogan, formerly president and CEO of Vignette, an enterprise content management specialist.

John Moore, HP Canada’s regional director of software sales, said customers and VARs should welcome the new products.

DecisionCentre, wholly-developed by HP, will enable CEOs and heads of lines of business to see the impact of IT resource trade-offs, he said. Applications Insight will give organizations a better map of applications across their networks and how they work with each other, which will aid help desks in troubleshooting, while AssetCentre will let IT departments bring solutions to lower the cost of lifecycle management.

All three products give partners new applications to bring to customers as well as integration opportunities, he said.

In a session with reporters and industry analysts, Bill Emmett, HP’s marketing manager for the OpenView portfolio provided more detail about the new products.

DecisionCentre, which will be available in September at pricing packages starting at US$46,500 and goes up based on the number of users, “helps IT organizations make intelligent trade-offs between the IT service levels they deliver and the resources – people and technology – required to deliver on those.”

It pulls real or near-time information on events, availability and incidents in an infrastructure, then lets managers model what will happen to service levels if they add, shift or delete IT, human and hardware resources.

AssetCentre 5.0, an upgrade of an application that HP acquired when it bought Perigrine Systems at the beginning of the year, has been improved by adding a Web interface, the ability to integrate with other applications though Web services and exchange data and improved software asset management.

Among the goals is to help not only IT departments but also make it easier for procurement and finance divisions to keep tabs on an organization’s hardware and software – particularly how many copies of applications have been contracted for, how many are really running and what’s under warranty.

“This is a very powerful release,” said Emmett, adding it will be available in the fourth quarter priced at US$3,075 a seat.

Application Insight, also based on a Perigrine product, helps companies predict, isolate and resolve application problems.

Emmett said it takes a new approach from competitors by discovering and mapping applications at the component level. It also manages from multiple sources on the availability, performance and structure of software on the network to “get a single source of the truth.”

As a result, he said, it not only can narrow down whether a software problem is being caused by a Web server or the application server, it can find which executable within the application is the troublemaker.

Sold in modules based on its use, remote monitoring starts at US$2,146 for five application targets. Application transaction monitoring starts at US$5,330 per managed server, client transaction monitoring starts at US$8,865 per Web server, while WebSphere MQ Transaction Monitoring starts at US$9,080 per managed server.

The OpenView suite has a reputation among customers of being desirable but expensive, particularly mid-sized firms, according to Armstrong. Asked about that, Moore of HP Canada in part acknowledged that by saying the company has to put together business cases for customers and VARs to help them understand the line’s value.

He also noted that many OpenView applications are sold as modules that customers can buy as they need and can afford. “You can pick and chose what’s right for your needs,” he said.

Exactly how big HP CEO Hurd wants the software division to grow beyond revenues and in what direction is still unclear. The unit lacks pieces that IBM, for example has, such as a database and an application server and application development tools.

However, Forrester Research analyst Jean-Pierre Garbani, interviewed before the conference, doubts HP can buy its way into those mature markets. And, he noted four companies –- HP, IBM, BMC and CA – already have 70 per cent of the enterprise management market, limiting how far it can go there.

More likely, he said, HP will have to wait for the next technological leap in software to expand its base.

In his remarks, Hogan inferred he doesn’t want OpenView to go too far past its roots. On the other hand Moore noted Hogan’s not limited to adding only to the OpenView brand.

“If it (the Software division) is going to become a strategic part of HP’s decisions it will have to make a decision on whether it stays purely within the management space or expands into other software spaces,” said Gartner analyst Will Cappelli.

“It’s an open question of how HP Software should continue to grow.”

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including ITBusiness.ca. Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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