In an interview, Todd DeLaughter, vice-president and general manager of the Management Software Organisation at Hewlett-Packard, talked about the company's on-demand strategy, which it calls the adaptive enterprise.
He also weighed in on HP's competitors and spoke about a new HP Technical User Conference scheduled for the autumn of 2005.
How did HP get started with its adaptive enterpise strategy?
"Adaptive enterprise is a vision of taking customers toward the synchronisation of IT with business directives. Part of that implies being able to respond to changes in a more rapid fashion. It is a bold vision, and there are many steps along the path. And it is not going to be one-stop shopping.
"We have been on this strategy for about two years, so it started around the time of the Compaq acquisition by HP.
"Internally, we saw challenges for our massively large companies and the changes inherent in bringing systems and people together. That resulted in discussions [about] the amount of money required to just do maintenance on IT systems.
"When we started, we were at about 70% of our budget spent on IT maintenance, and through steps we have evolved our IT organisation to flip that around, so that we have a target in the first year of spending 45% on maintenance and 55% on new growth in IT initiatives.
"We're driving toward a goal of 30% on maintenance and 70% for new growth and we think that's an achievable goal for our customers, based on what we do internally.
"When you deal with large systems, such as one with 230,000 e-mail accounts, a key element is process change. IT is seen as a service through IT service management and ITIL [Information Technology Infrastructure Library] standards management, which is a European-led initiative and has come to North America.
"Clearly, there are steps in evolving the organisational view, but once you have that in place, there is a series of things you need to do, from the product standpoint, to help business get in alignment with services.
"Our HP OpenView Service Desk product is an example, which has a central representation of all the configuration information in a system, which allows an end-to-end view of the system. Going forward, all our products will leverage a common object model approach, and the advantage is to have a single view of the data.
"After that is a service management level, which responds to the need to connect a service to business drivers, showing a business how an IT infrastructure is allowing it to succeed or [what is] blocking it from succeeding. A lot of people in the industry are talking about this, but it's not necessarily being achieved.
"In our approach to business process modeling, customers work with the Accentures of the world to model business processes, and we help them to understand how steps in the process depend on the infrastructure, such that if a step fails, we can tell what kind of revenue impact there will be."
Is this where your business process insight comes into play?
"We announced OpenView Business Process Insight in June, and announced that Swisscom is working with it. With BPI in that environment, we had modeled the IT impact against a business process in two to three days.
"With BPI, Swisscom found that a credit check on [its] customers was failing 25% of the time and was causing a [ninefold] delay in getting new users online.
"Once you are able to connect the IT infrastructure back to business needs, you start giving back knowledge so the business managers understand how to modify the systems. And the next step is to do that in a more automated fashion, whether through servers or applications. That's where this is going. Nobody is there today, but it's the state we want to drive toward."
How is HP going to make the next group of products?
"We will be building [them] ourselves, or partnering or acquiring. Our acquisition path has included six companies: Talking Blocks, Baltimore Technologies, Trulogica, Novadigm, Consera and Persist Technologies."
How soon will we see more automated processes, as you mentioned?
"That will happen over the next year to 18 months, although there are certainly solutions from HP today that address the notion of virtualisation of resources.
"HP's Utility Data Center (UDC) product is offered to do this, which is a scalable high-end solution that lets organisations virtualise storage and reconfigure it as business needs turn around."
What does HP plan to do with UDC?
"UDC is a committed product and on our road map. We are looking to bring value and benefits toward a larger customer base by making it more affordable."
How is HP doing compared to other suppliers with on-demand products?
"There a lot of comparisons between us and IBM. Certainly we think that management software is the next frontier for IT, so there are a lot of management suppliers, but we are really the two most focused.
"The strength of HP's services organisation and HP's software portfolio brings us into a two-horse race [between] HP and IBM. We feel we have the edge on software and architecture.
"The Talking Blocks Service Oriented Architecture is a key part as we go forward, and IBM has nothing in this space while we actually deliver on that today.
"When it comes to management of the mainframe, that's not really a problem that needs to be solved. We can tap information from the mainframe environment, but the bigger problem is end-to-end service management and modeling, and that's an area where IBM has fallen short."
HP has announced a new conference for September 2005 that will bring together technical sessions on HP software and hardware. How is the management software portion of this new show different from the current show known as the HP Software Forum?
"The Software User Forum is a very focused audience [and is] sponsored by the OpenView users group, and that group is typically using products at the operational level. They are also focused on the current product and how to use it.
"That is a bit different from the CIO level that will be a focus of the new conference. It will address customers who are aware of business challenges and the architecture revolution. CIOs have to act as the compliance officer with Sarbanes-Oxley, for example, and that role will increase over the years."
In a Computerworld survey conducted in the spring, users said they were worried that on-demand software would be sold by suppliers to lock in customers to that supplier's products. How do you react?
"We have a very heterogeneous strategy. The OpenView naming really applies. We're driven entirely by what customers use in their systems. Expect to see us interoperate well. We're oriented around building blocks. We can certainly adapt."
Matt Hamblen writes for Computerworld