HP announces key improvements to OpenView management software and services

* HP's multifaceted OpenView management release

Not long ago, HP announced that it intended to acquire Peregrine Systems - news that took many by surprise and caused some jitters about how the integration of Peregrine may deflect HP from other goals. News of a different sort was released last week when HP announced a stellar, profitable fourth-quarter of $27 million for HP OpenView - the first time in many quarters that profit has been in the black. Also last week, HP unveiled the latest products that form its OpenView management software and services offering.

The product announcement touched on a number of areas - HP OpenView Business Process Insight (BPI), HP Service Desk, and Information Technology Infrastructure Library professional services. This multifaceted release should serve to soothe any anxiety about software investment by HP.

HP OpenView BPI was first released in 2004 and is now in Version 2.0. The aim of this product is to broaden the service view from infrastructure to true business processes. BPI is an easy-to-use diagram-based process-mapping tool for defining business processes, but also allows the definition and inclusion of business metrics, such as total number of orders affected or a list of the customers whose orders are affected. Exception processes can be triggered when thresholds are violated, and a count of the orders moving through exception processes can signal the health of the business process.

Since not all infrastructure events or downtime actually impact the delivery of business services, different thresholds can be defined for monitoring the infrastructure that underlies the automated business processes. This is different from true business process management (BPM) in that instead of controlling the business process, only the critical parts of the process and links to business metrics are modeled and monitored. Version 2.0 includes more out-of-the-box process definitions and simplified business metric definition.

The next aspect of the announcement is HP Service Desk 5.0 featuring upgraded capabilities across the board. HP Service Desk includes functionality for incident, problem, change and configuration management from the service support side of ITIL; service-level management from the service delivery side; as well as knowledge and project management.

HP's configuration management database (CMDB) was initially developed outside of the service desk application but has been moving toward tighter integration and a fully-federated or unified approach over the past few years. The CMDB now ships with HP Service Desk and can initiate change requests, manage change projects and automatically update the CMDB for "closed loop operations." Broad integration capabilities also form the foundation for the unified CMDB.

HP OpenView BPI has been broadly incorporated into HP Service Desk to enable the modeling and monitoring of ITIL processes. Better reporting capabilities for the service-level management module and better graphics for developing service-level agreements and modeling underpinning contracts round out the improvements.

Lastly, several new services have been rolled out to help customers take better advantage of HP's offerings. There are low-cost "short engagement services" that can be completed in one to two weeks so that value can be achieved quickly. Several ITIL training courses have also been added to help spread the message that HP is basing its Service Desk strategy and implementation services on the ITIL processes.

EMA views this as a big announcement for HP. We were particularly happy to see its added investment in OpenView BPI - a product we believe has not seen the credit it is due. BPI really streamlines an enterprise's ability to manage business processes. It was designed by a team with technical expertise in business process management and was intentionally created to simplify the details in order to get to the parts of the process that are crucial for business success. HP has an opportunity to gain a competitive edge with BPI.  However, significant, additional investment is needed to market and educate potential buyers. 

The HP OpenView Executive Dashboard 1.0 also stands out in this announcement. While HP has had the ability to create dashboards through its professional services team, it has not addressed the need for role-based reporting and visibility through dashboards. It has now filled the gap with this release. The one word of caution here will be deployment. It is critical that the dashboards are easy to deploy and can be built from components provided by HP. Actual results will become evident with deployment.

In the end, this announcement reflects the trend of business alignment and transparency from CEOs and CIOs who need to get more out of their IT expenditures. On all accounts, HP is paying attention to this and making its investments accordingly.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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