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HP Seeks To Further Automate IT Manager's Workload

Two recently enhanced software products are designed to build step-by-step workflows to create physical or virtual servers, so IT services can become routine.
Hewlett-Packard enhanced two software products this week with the goal of optimizing IT's management of data center operations -- HP Operations Orchestration and HP Storage Essentials.

Both are part of what HP calls its Business Service Automation suite. If the software infrastructure is meant to deliver predictable business services, then HP Operations Orchestration is meant to automate what have previously been IT labor-intensive server configuration and provisioning tasks. It also can repurpose a server for a new task.

The integration of Operations Orchestration with other parts of the suite, such as the HP Change Management Database, allows the orchestration product to call on stored knowledge and configure servers based on an organization's known best practices.

A step-by-step workflow ensures that servers are configured the same way each time, without the possibility of human error introducing unexpected changes, said HP's Kalyan Ramanathan, director of product marketing, in an interview. Either physical or virtual servers can be provisioned through it.

While cloning an existing ESX Server is easy, establishing a way to produce an ESX Server that meets higher security standards and implements more policy controls is much harder. "You experience the six-minute to six-hour conundrum," where something that sounds simple to do takes a long time, said Ramanathan.

By establishing configuration models and step-by-step workflows to create physical or virtual servers, IT services can become more automated and routine, he said.

Storage Essentials is an enhanced version of its predecessor product, HP's StorageWorks. It helps an IT manager discover VMware ESX Server hosts and map their virtual machines to SAN storage resources. It also seeks to optimize storage capacity by discovering and making available unused disk arrays, which are typically only used to 50% to 70% of their capacity, he said.

By automatically provisioning storage for a virtual machine's guest operating system, Storage Essential reduces errors associated with equipping VMs.

Both products help manage the complexities of rapidly increasing the number of virtual machines in use, sometimes referred to as "virtual machine sprawl," he said. Workflows can be built to match the IT runbook, or documented guide on how to configure servers and storage.

HP also is establishing a portal, HP BSA Essentials, to tie customers to information resources on the BSA suite's use and to a BSA community of users. More information on the portal is available at HP's Web site.


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