HP software products gain automation features, tighter integration

HP's software group is focused on integrating acquired technologies and incorporating automation technology across its software portfolio

HP is set to unveil the fruits of its 2007 acquisition of Opsware at its annual Software Universe conference in Las Vegas, expecting 2,600 attendees.

LAS VEGAS -- HP this week unveiled new automation capabilities and tighter integration work across technologies the company acquired with Mercury Interactive, Opsware and Bristol Technology. HP took the wraps off its product enhancements in Las Vegas, where the company is hosting its Technology Forum & Expo and Software Universe conferences.

HP's updated software products (see slideshow), such as Release Control 4.0, now feature automation technologies designed to lessen the load on IT managers. Release Control 4.0 (formerly Change Control Management), which previously had been designed as a decision-support tool for change advisory boards, has been updated to take action to execute changes after approval processes are complete.

"Managing change was cited by more than 1,000 IT professionals as the number one contributor of risk to business services, and a majority of downtime is attributed to change," says Ramin Sayar, senior director for Business Service Management at HP, who cited an HP and Economist Intelligence Unit survey (see story). "This product now marries the change approval process and review with the execution of the changes."

Release Control 4.0, based on technology originally acquired with Mercury, can now coordinate the hand-off between change and release teams, provide real-time views into the impact of change through a new dashboard, and detect potential run-time collisions. The software is expected to be available in July, with pricing starting at $100,000.

HP is also announcing its Configuration Management System that incorporates existing software products and features enhancements to key applications. CMS includes the applications HP Universal Configuration Management Database (CMDB) 7.5 and Discovery and Dependency Mapping 7.5, as well as a federation software development kit and Web services-based adaptors that connect relevant information to common third-party repositories, HP says.

"What we have done is not only improved the breadth and depth of our discovery patterns and provided a framework, but also enabled the solution to pull in customized data sources into our environment," Sayar says.

HP modeled its CMS against the management best practices laid out in ITIL's latest release, Sayar says, but industry watchers warn HP might be ahead of end-user adoption of such processes.

"Our research shows that ITIL V3 adoption is taking place very slowly and many organizations face cultural challenges in implementing collaborative planning and release processes," says Mary Johnston Turner, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "HP is highlighting ITIL V3 compliance as a major value add and differentiator, but many customers many not be ready for this level of sophistication for some time."

Customers attending the show this week hope to learn more about HP's configuration-specific products.

"Most of my customers are doing systems and network management proactively, have some process and tooling around [IT service management], but have a gap for CMDB," says Jason Kennedy, a senior analyst and partner at Canadian IT consulting firm Tsunami. "It seems everyone's talking about it, but few are really doing something. I'm looking to see what I can learn about that angle."

Industry watchers privy to a preview of the configuration updates say HP is on the right track. "I do think the improvements to the CMDB, now termed the CMS, are positive," Turner says.

Also scheduled for July availability, HP's CMS Solution is priced starting at $60,000 and scales based on the size of the infrastructure.

Another update to HP's software suite comes by way of updated modules within Business Availability Center (BAC) 7.5. The suite of products now features predictive problem isolation capabilities and real-user monitoring enhancements, along with the automation technology and product integrations added to other suites. HP enhanced the Problem Isolation module in BAC 7.5 to provide early warning of potential problems by forecasting problems using automatic discovery tools that baseline normal behavior and alert on anomalies.

HP, through work with its Mercury technologies and HP Labs, with this release is providing pattern matching and behavior analysis algorithms that will alert IT managers to the "most likely suspect of performance degradations," Sayar explains.

The software provides integrated business transaction management, which Bristol offered, to help customers quickly identify problems before they impact the business service. By tracing issues from the user to the infrastructure component, these solutions accelerate the problem isolation and resolution process, HP says.

"The software looks across network, storage, database, client -- all domains and rolls up the information to look for trends and anomalies," he says.

Starting pricing for BAC 7.5 to monitor and manage five business critical applications or transactions is $50,000. The suite is slated for July availability.

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