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HP sets stage for Web services

CEO Carly Fiorina lays out Hewlett-Packard's plans for Web services management products and development at BEA's customer conference.

Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Monday underscored the company's alliance with BEA Systems and detailed HP's latest Web services management initiatives.

At BEA's eWorld customer conference in Orlando, Fla., Fiorina argued that the combination of the Java server software company and HP offers a "compelling alternative to IBM." The allies co-sell each other's technologies and are heavily invested in Intel's processors, such as the Itanium, she said.

HP and BEA are also committed to driving the business adoption of Web services, which is software that eases the exchange of data between different information technology systems. For HP's part, Fiorina detailed a series of investments that the tech giant intends to make around Web services management, including a contribution to standards bodies that involves BEA.

Most companies have focused on developing Web services over the past two years, but businesses now need tools to manage networks where Web services applications run, Fiorina said.

"Web services management is the next barrier to mainstream Web services adoption," said Fiorina. HP and BEA "collectively want to make sure Web services don't fall victim to proprietary fiefdoms."

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP has created a dedicated Web services management organization within its software business. The new unit has built a "Web service management engine" that will work with HP's OpenView network management software. The components will allow an IT administrator to manage Web services and ensure that they are running well with monitoring and diagnostics tools.

The Web services management engine, which will be an add-on to OpenView, is targeted for initial release around the middle of the year, according to Al Smith, chief technology officer for Web services management organization with HP's OpenView group.

HP will also expand its professional services organization with a Web services management practice for applications built using Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE)-based server software. By the end of the year, HP will have 1,000 people dedicated to this service, which builds on its current .Net services, Fiorina said.

On the standards front, HP said it is working with BEA, Tibco, WebMethods and Iona Technologies to contribute a Web services management specification to a distributed management working group within the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, or OASIS. The submission is designed to give businesses a standard method for modeling a Web services application and for designing the interactions between different Web services.

The submitted standard would let application developers incorporate management services such as authentication and quality of service as they build applications, HP's Smith explained. Programming tool companies, such as BEA, are expected to add those capabilities into their products.

"The history of (application) management is an afterthought--it's typically bolted on the end once an application is written," said Smith.

In getting more aggressive in the Web services niche, HP faces a number of start-ups focused on management. In one step to counteract any competition, HP will later this month outline its "adaptive infrastructure" initiative, which will help companies better use their existing IT resources, Smith said.