HP Details Adaptive Enterprise Strategy

UPDATE: The systems giant, already a purveyor of utility computing, deepens its commitment to helping CIOs and their businesses save money with new hardware and software.
HP turned the afterburners on its push to corral more high-end computing market share Tuesday with the unveiling of its "Adaptive Enterprise" strategy. At the heart of this wide-ranging play lies utility computing services and software.

The initiative, a broadening and deepening of its adaptive infrastructure strategy on the one-year anniversary of its purchase of Compaq, is aimed at helping companies and chief information officers get the IT infrastructure they need at flexible prices and provisioning. IBM, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Computer Associates and Veritas have all pledged allegiance to similar strategies, which industry experts say will usher in a new era of competitive computing.

Until today HP had yet to formally announce structure for it the way IBM, Computer Associates and most recently Veritas have. Microsoft unveiled its Dynamic Systems Initiative in March, but bolstered that effort with the help of HP today, combining for a strong software and hardware one-two punch.

Several HP executives were on hand at the event in San Jose, Calif. Tuesday to hawk the strategy, which includes new services, including business agility metrics, new virtualization software for automated resource utilization and new self-healing software for HP OpenView that address technical issues before machines go down, a practice also known as autonomic computing.

HP Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina said in opening remarks at the show that the underlying architecture for the Adaptive Enterprise is the the Darwin Reference Architecture, a blueprint crafted for creating a business process infrastructure to automatically adjust to changes in the business.

The new virtualization software, called HP Virtual Server Environment, consists of an enhanced version of HP-UX Workload Manager, v. 2.1. It orchestrates the allocation of virtual server resources provided for applications, users and processes and serves as the intelligence inside the HP Virtual Server Environment. It is geared to serve enterprise resource planning, supply chain management or customer relationship management.

HP said BEA Systems will help guide its Adaptive Application Architecture service initiative for Web services platforms, as well as work with Cisco Systems to make sure the Adaptive Network Architecture has solid infrastructure.

The Palo, Alto Calif. computing giant also said the ink is dry on its 10-year, $3 billion managed services agreement with Procter & Gamble. In a clear win over managed services rivals IBM and EDS, HP Services will manage P&G's IT infrastructure, data center operations, desktop and end-user support, network management and applications development 160 countries.

HP already has much of its on-demand technology in place in the form of its Utility Data Center initiative, of which two new systems were unveiled in Palo Alto and Bristol, U.K. today. The HP UDC makes it possible to virtualize data center resources such as servers, networking, storage and applications and reallocate them according to need.

HP can take some comfort in the fact that some analysts have declared HP the leader thus far.

Forrester Research Vice President and Research Fellow Julie Giera told internetnews.com HP is certainly ahead of the competition withs its latest news.

"All in all, this set of offerings by HP is clearly a signal to large companies that HP is there to stay; and it is a signal to HP's competitors like IBM and EDS that HP is targeting more than pipes and plumbing..." Giera said. "The company - with this set of offerings - has placed a "shot over the bow" of its competitors. HP, if they can pull this off, is a company whose place amongst the very best IT service providers in the world, has just been solidified. Now, of course, the company has to execute."

Giera discussed the challenges HP faces.

"If HP is making this investment, there must be a defined relationship between the parties that cannot easily be broken if one of those partners is acquired); HP has to develop business metrics and measurements, HP needs to continue to craft an image that is based upon business - not solely technology...which will be the most difficult hurdle for the firm. The company culture at HP is definitely technology-centric. It is quite a challenge to change that culture to become more business centric, more holistic...but it can be done given the right committment, the right tools, the right relationships with third parties, and - of course - the right opportunities to prove its capabilities."

However, first movers don't always make winners and many analysts have said it will take years before this space will shake out the pecking order. HP's fanfare didn't sit well with rivals in the space, such as Computer Associates.

"It's obvious that HP's primary support is for HP. We don't see any plans for their Virtual Server Environment to support any non-HP platforms," said David Hochhauser, Vice President of Marketing for Unicenter Solutions. "Customers who also have IBM or Sun servers are going to have to look to platform-neutral vendors like CA to extend the benefits of virtualization across a heterogeneous enterprise. Even after we have announced real products to go with our vision, others are still announcing strategy."

"This is," said Forrester Research analyst Richard Fichera, "a major and long-term battle for the management of the enterprise resources, and as OS and hardware platforms become increasingly commoditized, this level of management will become a major competitive battleground. However, at this point in time it is still relatively embryonic, and in some senses is as much about a battle for the perception of leadership as it is about actual delivered products."

HP has already packaged 10 Adaptive Enterprise solutions, which include hardware, software, services and partnerships. They address enterprise integration; IT consolidation; management; virtualization; business continuity; and security; the other four let customers deal with on demand solutions; managed services; integrated support; and financing.

HP offered some foreshadowing of what was to come last week when it realigned its enterprise business structure into different segments.

"Improving business agility is a strategic priority for CIOs," said Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP Services. "Our customers want to drive competitive advantage with an IT environment that dynamically adapts and evolves with constantly changing business needs."

In related news, HP inveiled upgraded ProLiant BL20p blade servers -- the first to deliver Intel Xeon 3.06-GHz processors.

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