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HP Dukes It Out With IBM, CA, BMC On Services Management

The company is relying on four products -- two from OpenView and two from its acquisition of Mercury Interactive -- to focus on service health monitoring.

Hewlett-Packard last week climbed into a ring already filled with heavyweight contenders to announce it is supplying business services management. BMC Software, CA and IBM are already have the gloves on and are warmed up. Will newcomer HP get a chance to perform on an equal footing?

HP is playing catch up by drawing together four products -- two from its OpenView systems management and two from its acquisition of Mercury Interactive -- and putting them together as HP Business Service Management solution. The four can supply a services management point of view that cuts across all the devices and systems that underlie individual services. HP CEO Mark Hurd said the acquisition of Mercury in November 2006 for $4.5 billion marked HP's emergence as a major software competitor

Furthermore, HP is emphasizing the high ground with the new product set.

"They're focused on service health monitoring. This suite pulls together their whole portfolio," said Paul Burns, analyst with IT consulting firm Enterprise Management Associates.

HP's Business Service Management solution is an attempt to get away from "using end users to monitor the services you're delivering," said Ramin Sayar, senior director of products, in an interview. Instead of waiting for alarm bells at the call center, IT managers can better foresee problems as they develop.

BSM includes an upgrade to HP Network Management Center 8.0, a re-architected and rebranded OpenView product that allows an administrator to find problems in the network paths that link elements of a composite application. By finding a network node choked with traffic or an application element responding sluggishly, administrators can fix problems before they lead to user complaints.

HP Operations Center 8.0, the former OpenView Operations, lets IT administrators assess a problem with a service and prioritize its repair based on its impact on the business. Through links to the Configuration Management Database, Operations Center users can see the relationship between the infrastructure and the elements of a service relying on it.

Business Availability Center 7.0, a former Mercury product, can isolate what changes recently occurred in the network or software infrastructure where there is a known problem and recommend methods to solve it. Repeated instances of a problem become fixable by applying automatically the known solution. Availability Center has been extended since the Mercury purchase to include "business processes and transactions," said Sayar.

The Universal Configuration Management Database 7.0, acquired with Mercury, gives HP the ability to centralize all configuration information, leverage management information in other databases with its real time federation capabilities, and automatically discover and map all elements of the infrastructure. The information is used by the other products in BSM.

The four products amount to "a front end to back end view" of a business service, said Burns. "I haven't seen how it comes together in reality, but it makes a lot of sense," he said.

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