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HP signs development deal with WebMethods

Hewlett-Packard has signed an alliance with B2B integration specialist WebMethods to co-develop software for Internet business interactions. HP's OpenView unit will collaborate with WebMethods to create software to help companies efficiently monitor and manage the performance of their business, said John Capobianco, VP of marketing at HP Bluestone. The agreement will extend to HP's business process management software, Process Manager.

The WebMethods announcement comes only a day after HP announced a three-year agreement with WebMethods competitor Tibco that will focus on co-developing applications supporting high-volume online transactions and improving the speed and reliability of middleware in the telecom and service provider sectors.

In addition to the joint development work with WebMethods, HP Consulting will recommend the WebMethods integration platform as a preferred integration solution for the manufacturing and supply chain markets.

The co-developed software from HP OpenView and WebMethods will help customers discover and correct problems in application connectivity and enable better management of application interactions throughout the extended supply chain. While the current OpenView offering provides a dashboard for viewing the performance of networks, systems, applications and services, through collaboration with WebMethods, HP wants to extend the management capabilities of OpenView to include HP Process Manager.

Capobianco said the nature of the business agreement was similar to the one with Tibco, but he insisted there was no conflict between the work it plans with Tibco and that with WebMethods.

WebMethods shares several customers with HP, including Interwoven, i2 and BroadVision. WebMethods provides software and related services that facilitate B2B interactions over the Internet through integration of systems with external partners' systems or within businesses. It focuses on automating and streamlining different programming languages, database structures, communication protocols and enterprise computing platforms with the end goal of fully automating speedy transactions. WebMethods claims implementation time for its software is short due to limited customization requirements.

HP, like its competitor and partner BEA WebLogic, as well as IBM WebSphere, Sun?s iPlanet and SilverStream, are all busy building on the trends that became apparent in 2000, such as XML, wireless, e-commerce, personalization, and enterprise application integration.

All are using J2EE as the underlying platform for developing vertical-niche applications and frameworks for specialized applications such as Web services, wireless, CRM and process/workflow automation.

The application server vendors believe that the company that can provide one-stop integration of tools, frameworks, and applications will have a distinct advantage over competitors. HP believes that BEA is being forced to reach up into the software space -- to provide added value to its business -- because it doesn't have a hardware solution set. HP, by contrast, claims to be able to utilize its HP-UX hardware. HP also believe BEA's software customers are concerned BEA will eat their business as it adds to its own software stack.

Capobianco says HP is busy mobilizing its massive sales/marketing force around its new middleware offering, as well as investing significant amounts of money in Bluestone products.

On the technology front, HP will release a new J2EE framework in June, followed by a revision of its application server and e-speak with XML additions in August/September. The process manager is being written in Java. The aim is to deliver a more tightly integrated platform, said Capobianco.

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