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Management ‘mind meld’ at HP and IBM

Feb 04, 20043 mins
Data CenterIBM

* HP and IBM blend management software with other offerings

Fans of the original Star Trek will remember when Mr. Spock would do a “mind meld,” joining his mind to that of another person. It seems HP and IBM today are doing internal mind melds to align the directions of their hardware, software and services organizations.

IBM has been working at this for more than a year, as its people communicate and plan across lines of business, company brands, and geography. For example, IBM’s Software Group, with its five software brands of DB2, Tivoli, Lotus, WebSphere and Rational, is leveraging software assets across brands. Parts of WebSphere technology are embedded in products sold through Tivoli, and vice versa.

IBM’s acquisition of Think Dynamics last year was announced with the intention that the intellectual property from the acquisition would reside with the Tivoli brand, but that it would also be leveraged by the Systems Group and IBM Global Services. We’ve already started to see this in Project Symphony, a spectrum of offerings where IBM customers can pick and choose the software and services they need.

HP completed its merger with Compaq and has been doing some mind melding of its own. HP recently announced that its services organization will merge with its systems organization.

At a recent analyst conference, the effects of this mind melding could be seen. For example, Insight Manager recently was added to the portfolio of HP’s software organization. Prior to this, it belonged to the server organization.

Another example is HP’s Consolidated Client Infrastructure, an HP server blade/software combo to manage clients. These types of combinations will bring value to IT organizations, not just the speeds and feeds.

As the hardware people from IBM and HP continue to fight for market leadership amid shrinking margins and fierce competition, it seems another mind meld of sorts is happening, where management is taking its place as a potential differentiator of hardware brands – with both management capabilities embedded in hardware and bundled software that makes it easier to manage the hardware. This trend can also be seen in other vendors like Dell and RLX.

The key to management tools that you may acquire from any of these vendors is whether they can help you manage all the different kinds of systems you may have. You don’t want to get stuck with 10 proprietary tools to manage your servers – even if they are free! There’s a bigger cost in the people time that has to be spent learning and using all of those tools.

Although there will still be innovation in systems, the real innovations in the shorter term will be coming from software. Sure, hardware densities will continue to increase, the speeds will get faster, the price will decline, and the form factors will evolve, but software has the potential for being the source of many innovations. So it makes sense that hardware people talk to their counterparts on the software and services side.

All of this mind melding can be a positive thing for IBM and HP’s customers. However, as with everything, the key is execution – and that’s still an unknown, as both companies are working to develop and deliver on their visions for the future of IT. In HP’s case, it’s the Adaptive Enterprise. For IBM, it’s On Demand. In both cases, the mind meld is absolutely essential to deliver on their visions. The question is, which will execute better?