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HP expands management tools line

Aiming to expand its collection of storage software products, the company plans next week to announce three additions to its OpenView line of management tools.

Aiming to expand its collection of storage software products, Hewlett-Packard plans next week to announce three additions to its OpenView line of management tools.

The move is part of HP's goal of focusing its software business on tools that help companies manage their vast collection of servers and storage products. HP has scaled back other parts of its software business, recently dropping the e-business software line it inherited as part of its Blurestone Software acquisition.

As part of its new strategy, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is announcing three new products, although one is largely a rebranding of an existing product.

The two new products are OpenView storage provisioner, a tool for automating the task of parceling out storage, and OpenView storage media operations, a piece of software that HP decided to sell to outside customers after initially developing it to manage its own collection of 900,000 back-up tapes.

A third product, which HP is calling OpenView Continuous Access Storage Appliance (CASA), is essentially the SANlink product that HP acquired when it bought StorageApps in July 2001. HP is adding some new features and pitching the software primarily as a tool for moving data from one type of storage gear to another.

HP says that its storage provisioning software automates a process that used to take a storage administrator at least an hour, performing anywhere from 30 to 100 steps by hand.

"We have turned the responsibility over to the computers," said Don Langeberg, director of marketing for HP's network storage business. "By removing the human being we have removed one of the bottlenecks."

The software reduces the task of provisioning one piece of storage from roughly an hour to only a few minutes, potentially saving companies millions of dollars, Langeberg said.

A number of companies are moving into this area, said Anne Skamarock, a storage analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, a Boulder, Colo. market research and consulting firm.

"The next logical step is to try and automate as much as possible of the storage partitioning," Skamarock said.

Development of the provisioning software began early this year at pre-merger Compaq Computer and the first version of the software works only with Compaq's storage products. HP plans to include support for the HP brand of storage products next year and eventually add support for other companies' storage gear. The software, which began shipping last week, sells for $20,000, including a year of customer service.

The CASA data migration software, which will ship in its new version later this month, starts at $122,500. The storage media software, which is now shipping, starts at $8,400 and includes a year of support.

Skamarock said HP's combined set of releases represents progress toward its overall goal.

"I see all of what they announced as just baby steps (toward) a fully functional storage management software," Skamarock said, noting that for a hardware company, HP is doing pretty well in the software department.