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HP throws switch on utility system for SAP

Hewlett-Packard introduces infrastructure technology aimed at giving SAP customers more freedom to distribute computing power.

A new package of hardware, software and services from Hewlett-Packard is intended to bring utility-computing capabilities to businesses using SAP applications.

The set of technologies, dubbed HP's Virtualized Infrastructure Solutions (VIS) for MySAP Business Suite, is designed to let organizations more easily assign computing power to different tasks as needed. For instance, a customer using SAP's financial software with the HP system could allocate a greater amount of processing power to those applications when they are working on more complex analysis, rather than simply completing everyday jobs.

Launched Tuesday as part of HP's Adaptive Enterprise initiative, the infrastructure package will let SAP customers decrease the size of their IT networks as computing power is distributed more intelligently, company executives said.

Companies trying out the technologies are already scaling back their IT systems, said Ron Eller, general manager of Enterprise Solution Alliances at HP.

"One of the early steps is to review the architecture and look at consolidating certain assets that can be virtualized and presented in different ways at different times to different applications," Eller said. "People are able to take complexity out of their environment by reducing the number of systems and by building pools of aggregate peak resources."

As an example of how VIS can be put to work, HP highlighted an installation of the tools at the University of Magdeburg in Germany, a school in SAP's homeland where SAP trains large numbers of engineers on its products. Since different applications are being taught to students at certain times, the school can assign computing power to support specific software programs when its classes demand, rather than attempt to run them at the same rate all the time.

Eller pointed out that most companies do not access their enterprise software systems in such an extreme manner. But he said the Magdeburg test demonstrates that the infrastructure technology can be used to shift support among applications on the fly. Another key to the infrastructure virtualization effort, he said, is that it lets companies improve performance using the IT systems they already own.

"Customers need to find a way to have IT become an advantage in the business more than it has been, and that comes from the kind of agility offered by technologies like this," Eller said. "We can present a much more flexible pool of resources to SAP users and use SAP's technology to move those applications around seamlessly with resources. That's a big step."

Eller said HP will continue to work on comparable infrastructure technology designed for use with applications made by other vendors, but he said the company has no immediate plans to announce similar packages with other partners. However, he said that HP continues to work closely with Oracle, SAP's closest rival, to build utility tools for use with the database giant's products.