HP hints at new software strategy

Hewlett-Packard is to announce a software roadmap next month that will provide information on its plan to marry a variety of...

Hewlett-Packard is to announce a software roadmap next month that will provide information on its plan to marry a variety of disparate product lines.

HP will start the next wave of its software strategy by providing an architecture for the ways in which its popular OpenView management software can be linked tightly with software used in its Utility Data Centre (UDC) architecture for network management.

"In November, you will see a complete roadmap unveiled," said Nora Denzel, senior vice-president of HP's software business unit. "There will be software and services from HP and partners that will arrive."

Like IBM and Sun Microsystems, HP has embarked on a long-term project to make it easier to manage large data centres. All three vendors want to pool hundreds of servers and storage systems and give administrators one view of an entire network. HP calls this vision "adaptive infrastructure" and sees its UDC architecture as one tool for achieving it.

HP is also strengthening its OpenView management software, which checks on the health of a wide variety of hardware.

The company is now poised to join pieces of OpenView with its UDC technology to create a large, over-arching management suite, and it will roll out products that fit into this structure over coming years.

"HP has had a mixed story," said Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff. "There has really been a grab bag of pieces that have made up its virtualisation story."

Part of the confusion surrounding HP's software strategy stems from its acquisition of Compaq earlier this year. After the deal closed, HP announced it would drop a large parts of its middleware product line and instead partner with Microsoft and BEA Systems for application server technology.

Haff said that potential gaps in its middleware strategy and lack of a unified architecture for its management products have triggered doubts about HP's software story.

Next month's announcement will give HP a chance to answer some of the questions raised by both users and analysts.

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