Analysts question HP's vision of an adaptive IT infrastructure

Hewlett-Packard revealed details of how its future IT products will support the changing demands of businesses at this year's...

Hewlett-Packard revealed details of how its future IT products will support the changing demands of businesses at this year's annual ENSA conference in Amsterdam. But the vision leaves many questions unanswered, writes Cliff Saran.

Under the banner "Adaptive Infrastructure", HP laid out its strategy for utility computing and the virtualisation of IT resources within the datacentre to allow IT managers to run servers and storage from different manufacturers in a consistent way.

During her keynote presentation last Tuesday, Carly Fiorina, HP's chief executive, said, "We are focused on making sure that your investments in IT adapt to the requirements of your business because this next era of technology is not about the hottest box or the killer applications." She said the main advantage of technology in the future would be as an adaptive, productive foundation that could evolve with the business.

Describing the strategy, she said, "We are developing adaptability into the core of all our infrastructure products: servers, storage, software, network management and security."

As an example, Fiorina said HP was building dynamic resource allocation within these products to allow users to deploy existing or new IT resources in a way that reflected their use. She said the strategy included automated, intelligent management to enable IT managers to control changes in demand on their IT systems based on established service level agreements.

In terms of datacentre management, Fiorina said, "Virtualisation in the datacentre, on storage and servers will ensure you get maximum utility as well as flexibility and adaptability."

Ovum's chief analyst Julian Hewitt described Adaptive Infrastructure as a good slogan, but said, "It will take years to become a reality."

One of the key inhibitors, said Rakesh Kumar, an analyst with Meta Group, is that HP has yet to provide an integration strategy that works with legacy IT. He also questioned the financial options HP would be offering users.

For instance, the highest level of flexibility in the Adaptive Infrastructure would be achieved when users are able top pay for software on a pay-per-use basis. "But the software industry has no intention to support this licensing model," Kumar said - it would radically change software makers' business models.

Kumar said, users could end up paying huge licence fees if software makers resist the change to usage-based licensing.

HP's vision involves datacentres powered by Itanium-based servers that could be dynamically partitioned to run Linux, HP-UX, or Windows applications. Without support from the software industry, this vision of the Adaptive Infrastructure would require users to purchase licences for the maximum number of servers/ CPUs an application could ever use.

Read more on Business applications