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HP Ties Project Management Into Code's Operational Lifecycle

By tying project and portfolio management into existing technology optimization products, HP helps data centers answer difficult questions about what software can be fixed and what should be replaced.

Hewlett-Packard, a quiet company in the noisy software sector, is expanding its systems and software management portfolio to include a version of its Project and Portfolio Management Center that ties into several existing technology optimization products.

Few trumpets will herald the move, but it illustrates how HP is building out its core software, formerly known as the OpenView product line, into a comprehensive data center management suite. The announcement of Project and Portfolio Management Center 7.5 shows how HP is trying to get beyond the simplistic "Is the system up and running?" question to the hitherto difficult-to-discern issues. They include such things as how frequently has that application needed fixing, what are the fixes costing us, and when should we replace it?

Project and portfolio management in the general sense is an application meant to give visibility into software development projects and make the resulting code more manageable as it moves into its production life cycle. As packaged software is added to the data center's line-up, it too can be managed through the PPM application.

In HP's sense, PPM means not only capturing project development data but being able to see beyond development into the associated costs of using the software. When it comes to managing the existing application portfolio, PPM "captures all the activity on in-place applications -- when a new release was installed, what series of enhancements occurred, what was the break-fix incident, how were call center issues handled?" said Forrester Research analyst Lewis Cardin.

Through PPM activity capture and reporting, IT and business managers can "see what it's costing to keep the lights on" for an existing application set. When development is tied to activity cost accounting, managers can determine when it's time to refresh an application versus when it's time to throw it away, Cardin said. He specializes in program management office issues, the IT office that encourages best practices in development projects.

HP's PPM Center 7.5 has added activity reporting and cost capture features that enhance management of development projects, although Cardin cautions that little feedback is available yet on how many activities will be covered for most shops.

Perhaps more important than features is the way HP has integrated PPM Center 7.5 with other fixtures of the product line. PPM is now tied to the HP Universal Configuration Management Database, the system that captures all configuration settings and information about changes to them in one place. That would allow a review within the PPM system of how frequently changes were being made to an application, whether they were short-term or long-term fixes, and what resources were invested to accomplish them.

PPM also is integrated with HP Quality Center, the software testing and quality-assurance package that stemmed from its acquisition of Mercury Interactive.

It's also integrated with HP Service Management Center, where business stakeholders can gain visibility into what happened to their request for an added IT service, how the project is progressing, and what is the defect count as code is produced. With this integration, a business user could tell the PPM system that there's a problem with a new application and there needs to be an enhancement. "It allows you to escalate a need up to PPM Center. It adds to what's on the IT plate but it avoids lots of e-mail with no resolution," said Ken Cheney, HP's director of the PPM Center product.

PPM adds to the information already gleaned from such older HP products as Network Node Manager, part of the former HP OpenView, to develop a fuller picture of IT operations, Cheney said.

PPM Center 7.5 is available immediately at a price of $30,000.

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