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HP's emerging take on services for hybrid application delivery

HP's updated Business Service Management (BSM) software aims to support hybrid application delivery models, paving the way for enterprises to run their software with broader cloud options.

HP's recently updated Business Service Management (BSM) software aims to support hybrid application delivery models, thus paving the way for broader use of cloud computing. At its recent HP Universe 2010 conference in Washington, D.C., HP said it is preparing to help enterprises run their software in the traditional data center, a highly virtualized data center, a private cloud, or a public cloud.

The computer giant's plans in this area ride in part on a new version of its HP BSM suite, which can update the full runtime environment of application services whether they run on-premise or off-premise, or on physical or virtual environments. The company also announced test data management tool updates that more closely mirror actual production environments, as well as greater integration of the Business Technology Optimization (BTO) software that came its way with the 2006 acquisition of Mercury Interactive.

Analysts view HP's approach to cloud computing as very much based on its automated tool suites for operations, systems and networking management, in that it differs from competitor IBM. While working quickly like HP to enhance its test and management offerings for cloud computing, IBM is also offering middleware services for the cloud. For its part, HP exited the middleware market some time ago. HP's focus is on application delivery, which may be headed for a sea of change.

"IT delivery in business is fundamentally changing," said Bill Veghte, HP's new executive vice president in charge of Software & Solutions. People will have to decide whether to use public cloud or private cloud architectures and "whether they take advantage at the platform or application level," he continued.

"They have to be aware that an enormous number of people are consuming IT as mobile," said Veghte, who joined HP just last month. Veghte comes to HP after 20 years at Microsoft, where he served for a time as head of the Windows business.

Among cloud computing issues, HP and others must address are security concerns, said Theresa Lanowitz, Founder of research firm Voke, Inc. "People don't want to see sensitive data getting out." When asked about HP's emphasis on software management, she responded: "That's HP's model. HP is far more comfortable on the operations side." She said her research shows that test data management data is becoming a major issue.

"You have to have a way to test with real data," Lanowitz said. Thus the updated HP Test Management Software capabilities represent "a good complement" to the other HP tools.

HP's announcements betoken its general cloud strategy, said Dana Gardner, President and Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. "This is HP moving its Business Technology Optimization heritage to the cloud and multi-sourced operations models," he said. "The other people are coming from a different direction."

"Microsoft is coming from their heritage. IBM is coming from its heritage. BMC and CA are coming from a mainframe heritage. HP is looking at things from its heritage of solving 'operational complexity problems,' that will be important for cloud," he said.

"To manage the cloud, you will have to manage complexity," according to Gardner, who added that cloud computing will bring IT a new level of disruption "that will change the landscape."

Ceding control of cloud computing apps
Systems management software brings control to end users, and that is important in the cloud, said HP customer Steve Katz. Ceding control is not a favorable option. "You think about going to the cloud and you think 'we're handing this stuff off.' It should be less complicated," said Katz, Senior Manager for Performance, Seagate.

How enterprises manage controls for on-premise and off-premise applications and where you draw the line is important in the cloud.

"It is a scary line to draw," said Katz, who spoke at HP Universe 2010. "We built that sort of thinking into our cloud apps."

Katz went on to say that SLAs will be more complex in the cloud, as valid descriptions of how end users experience applications are not available yet.

"We have to think differently about how we measure services," he said, adding that cloud vendors are not very good yet at describing the user experience, something that traditional data center operations folks have successfully focused on in recent years.

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