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HP business service automation software improves strategy

HP improves and integrates its business service automation software portfolio, promising a more strategic way to see into and manage the IT brain.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) says it has integrated and improved its business service automation software, taking a "significant step closer to the promise of lights-out IT." The improvements include tighter "alignment between the upstream change review process and the execution of changes," so CIOs and their staffs can focus on business strategy and services rather than chasing down problems in the data center.

Change might be a compelling theme of this year's political campaigns, but it can spell disaster for IT systems and their business clients. In a survey HP commissioned from The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd., 25% of the more than 1,125 IT leaders polled said about half of all their outages result from a change made one place that caused problems elsewhere: IT's left hand doesn't know what the right hand is up to. The majority of those polled agreed that automation makes IT changes more predictable and consistent.

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Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP says the improvements represent a more perfect union of its own technology and the best-of-breed "business technology optimization" (BTO) software it has acquired in recent years. The list of acquisitions includes: IT service and asset software maker Peregrine Systems Inc.; automated quality assurance software provider Mercury Interactive Corp.; Bristol Technology Inc., which makes business transaction monitoring software; and HP's most recent purchase, Opsware Inc., the data automation software maker.

"The newsworthy angle here is that we have taken the best of breed of products that HP has spent more than $7 billion on over the past few years … and not only integrated them more tightly into the HP portfolio … but more importantly brought out new and innovative products at the same time," said Ramin Sayar, senior director of products in HP's Business Service Management line. The products have been brought together in a unit HP is calling business service technology.

Sayar, who joined HP as part of the Mercury acquisition, said business technology optimization aims to automate end-to-end service within IT, from the project request that bubbles up in the project management office through design, testing, operations and configuration management change. But the lifecycle is not just linear but iterative because circumstances change, especially in downturns. IT is constantly having to rebalance and reprioritize its efforts, Sayar said.

The result can be "absolute chaos," Sayar said. HP's lifecyle business service automation software uses best processes to rationalize and provide a line of sight into the chaos, so IT departments can focus on strategy rather than running down changes and change conflicts.

Outages are
not because devices faulty. They go out because somebody did something to something.

Evelyn Hubbert
analystForrester Research Inc.
Evelyn Hubbert, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said HP is "in a position to put it all together, because they have all the pieces in the house." She said she particularly likes HP's coupling of change control management with release execution, so IT can anticipate rather than simply react to conflicting changes that can cause outages.

"It helps minimize downtime. Outages are not because devices are faulty. They go out because somebody did something to something," Hubbert said. "If you don't control that and have it in closed loop, that can cause chaos." She said she sees the software as helping to "align the Rubik's Cube" of IT.

Analyst Dennis Drogseth, a vice president at Enterprise Management Associates Inc., said HP focused on bringing the pieces of its many major acquisitions together. This announcement "builds on the capabilities across all the companies and provides further integration levels."

Visibility across business services and applications is critical. IT cannot manage change without real-time insight, Drogseth said, and the HP portfolio delivers that. "This is not a single panel of glass or single service, but a cohesive set of services to support multiple groups and constituencies."

The HP BTO offerings include:

  • HP Release Control 4.0 software, formerly HP Change Control Management. It provides real-time visibility into change activity so IT departments can identify change conflicts during execution. The software links change process management to release execution, helping to minimize service disruptions and lower the risk of change.
  • Business Availability Center 7.5, which provides business transaction management and problem isolation, giving IT insight into the source of the problem. The software links the end-user experience to network path performance for faster resolution, HP says. IT can take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to problems.
  • An ITIL V3-based Configuration Management System solution, which "breaks down information barriers across the organizational silos, so that the right information in the right context" gets to the right person. The system provides a consolidated view of change operations across the IT infrastructure.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer

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