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HP hones Net tools for businesses

Hewlett-Packard will soon release new Internet tools to help businesses better manage their corporate networks.

Hewlett-Packard will soon release new Internet tools to help businesses better manage their corporate networks.

As part of its new focus of providing Internet and e-commerce-related tools, the company plans to release software that can allocate who gets bandwidth priority.

HP executives announced plans for about a dozen new or updated products at its OpenView network management users conference in Boston today.

The policy-based management software allows companies to manage bandwidth by giving priorities to devices, such as switches, routers and network adapter cards, said David Greene, marketing manager for HP OpenView Solutions. That way a database query could have priority over email, he said.

The company is integrating email and computer telephony to its help desk software called IT Service Management. The software is now connected to the telephone-exchange system, so service desk employees can receive caller information immediately on their computer screens.

HP is also releasing "Smart Plug-ins" for Netscape, Microsoft, and Apache Web servers. The Smart Plug-ins are software connectors that gleans information from the Web servers and delivers the data to HP's central management console.

Analyst Jasmine Noel of D.H. Brown Associates said the policy-based management software--called Policy Xpert--is a good first step for HP but isn't as broad as it needs to be.

At present, different manufacturers have policy-based management software for their various devices. For HP customers, this will help manage the devices under one umbrella, but Noel said improvements are still needed.

Network managers don't want to give instructions to each router. They want the ability to make high-level requests and have the work done automatically, Noel said. "It's a decent start, but I want to be able to make general policy statements without having to worry about which Cisco router connects to these people and these people go through this server."

HP is also upgrading some existing products. The company this summer will ship Network Node Manager 6.1, which will add support for Cisco Ethernet switches. Prices start at $4,995.

The company in the third quarter will release Desktop Administrator 5.0, which will include support for Microsoft's SQL Server database. HP will add support for Oracle databases in the future.

HP is creating Smart Plug-Ins for PeopleSoft, SAP's R/3, and BEA's Tuxedo software. It also bundled its R/3 software into one product for businesses to manage their entire SAP system.

In other news, HP said it has launched an OpenView certification program for systems managers. The company has also partnered with mainframe management software maker Sterling Software to co-market and sell their products.

HP OpenView Policy Xpert for Windows NT will ship this summer for $21,500. It supports Cisco, Hitachi, and Intel routers, Lucent switches, and Intel network adapter cards.