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HP pushes IT management strategy

As part of its "adaptive enterprise" approach, Hewlett-Packard announces new services and software for managing information technology operations.

As part of its "adaptive enterprise" push, Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday announced new services and software for managing information technology operations.

As expected, HP announced software for managing the Unix, Linux and Windows operating systems from a single console. HP also introduced a management platform for Web services, announced a partnership with business software company SAP and said it plans to acquire Persist Technologies, a software company focused on managing information from creation to deletion.

HP said it has new certification programs related to what it defines as "best practices" in running IT departments more like a business. Certifications are available for internal IT divisions as well as IT services companies. The company also announced that it would offer documentation for effective work processes related to its OpenView service desk software, which is focused on help-desk tasks. The documentation can be purchased together with the software or separately.

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The new offerings allow for the "adaptive management" of IT, HP said. "Adaptive management breaks the cycle of endless maintenance costs, so CIOs (chief information officers) can once again invest in innovation," Nora Denzel, senior vice president of HP's Adaptive Enterprise, said in a statement. "Management services like ITSM (IT Service Management) can help our customers create a lean, responsive IT operation, while management software provides the key to linking business processes and applications down into the raw hardware."

HP's efforts in "adaptive enterprise" are similar to those of other companies trying to lower the costs of IT operations and transform computing eventually into a utilitylike service. IBM and Sun have efforts along these lines.

Dell made its own offerings on Tuesday, when it unveiled three server management tools that let information technology managers control their hardware and Microsoft software at the same time.

Denzel said the management products announced Tuesday from Dell and HP were quite different. She said HP technology can manage heterogeneous computing environments, while Dell's announcement is focused on Microsoft software. "We're talking about a distributor (Dell) going back to their (research and development) partner (Microsoft) for more R&D," Denzel said.

HP's newly unveiled software for managing multiple operating systems from a single console is called HP Systems Insight Manager. HP said the product unifies the management of HP ProLiant, Integrity and HP 9000 servers.

Managing multiple operating systems is important for HP, because its Itanium servers--its Integrity line--can simultaneously run Windows, Linux and HP-UX. That means that the company doesn't have to design as many different types of computers. Eliminating the management headaches of dealing with different operating systems gets HP closer to "something that actually benefits customers as opposed to HP's development costs," Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata, said last week.

HP's new Web services product is called OpenView Management Integration Platform. It is based in part on the company's acquisition of Talking Blocks technology.

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"It eases the way you link a business process to your IT gear," Denzel said.

To demonstrate how the technology can help a business, Denzel gave the example of a company's employees signing up for benefits through a Web portal. At a typical company, if the registration system is running slowly, IT managers might only hear about it if users complain, and they may have a hard time measuring exactly how many users are able to sign up each hour, she said.

But with the new software, managers could get a description of the problem that details the number of users registering per hour, Denzel said. The software also would suggest how to improve the performance of the system--say by adding storage, she added.

HP and SAP said they will work together to help large organizations efficiently manage IT environments that use technology from different companies. HP and SAP have already had an alliance for 15 years.

HP would not disclose the terms of its planned acquisition of Persist Technologies, which is about two years old and based in Pleasanton, Calif. Persist makes a storage device designed to allow speedy retrievals of data. Bob Schultz, general manager of HP's network storage solutions unit, said HP has been reselling Persist's technology for several months. He said HP decided to buy the company partly to allay customer concerns that Persist would not persist as a viable business.