HP adapts to autonomic structure

Recent moves from Hewlett-Packard Co. headquarters suggest the company has been anything but idle and it has released the automation and intelligence technologies to prove it.

In November, the company announced its anticipated Adaptive Management Platform (AMP): a slew of technologies focused on making life less complex for the IT administrator. According to HP, the new platform allows companies to create networks that are able to automatically adapt to changing conditions, while ensuring the network, storage and server resources are available as needed.

And, underneath the AMP umbrella, enhancements to its OpenView portfolio and a reintroduction to its Utility Data Centre (UDC) architecture are laid out as the core components of the new platform.

“The Adaptive Management Platform addresses needs by being able to help IT organizations…balance their resources so that the demand for the services they offer can be matched by the supply,” explained Bill Emmett, solutions marketing manager for Enterprise Software with HP in Fort Collins, Col. “This is what helps them…utilize their resources in the most effective way possible.”

According to Emmett, the UDC software makes this allocation possible. Announced more than a year ago, UDC can create a virtual view of all resources within one or more data centres and can pool those resources to meet service and application needs.

“The analogy I like to use is to think of a car,” Emmett offered. “The UDC is a lot like the gas pedal and steering wheel. It is what helps you control the car. It is the UDC that allows you to rebalance your computing resources across…the network and ensures you have the right amount of computing resources to satisfy the demand for the services you are offering.”

And, while the UDC is the controls, using the same analogy, OpenView would be the window and the gauges that help the administrator understand what is happening within the environment, Emmett continued.

HP’s upgrades to OpenView include version 6.4 of its Network Node Manager and version 2.0 of the Network Node Manager Extended Topology. The products enable customers to actively investigate root cause of problems as well as predict potential problems through the collection of additional event polling. The offerings also are among the first to deliver support for IPv6, the next-generation Internet protocol that increases the address space to 128 bits from 32 bits.

Also new within the OpenView portfolio is increased support for Web services via the OpenView Web Services Management Engine. According to HP, the prototype technology is designed to reside on a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) server. Once transactions formulated with Web services definition language (WSDL) are brokered through SOAP, they are intercepted by the Web Services Management Engine and tagged.

“We can tell how each piece of the service contributed to the overall availability and performance of that Web service,” Emmett said. The Web Services Management Engine will be initially available to all HP LightHouse customers.

While HP’s announcements may seem to be late in the autonomic computing game behind the likes of IBM Corp.’s eLiza initiative and Sun Microsystems’ N1 plan, HP customers say they welcome the move.

“It will improve service level management, event correlation and resource utilization,” predicted John Bandy, IS manager at Foremost Farms USA, a US$1.3 billion dairy co-op in Baraboo, Wis.

Foremost Farms currently uses HP’s OpenView Network Node Manager and Operations Manager technologies to define and manage business service levels on its IT systems.

For Maritime Life Assurance Ltd. in Halifax, N.S., which uses a Windows-based version of OpenView to manage its application servers, greater insight to Web services will bring about the most benefit.

“Being able to track Web services that are being brokered through SOAP and being able to know where it is spending its time really helps pinpoint performance problems,” said Brad Elliott, technology services manager for Maritime Life Assurance.

According to Gordon Haff, an analyst with Nashua, N.H-based research firm Illuminata, with the latest announcement HP is offering customers more than just forward-vision strategies.

“Basically, we are out of the pure visioneering stage,” Haff explained. “Products are actually starting to make appearances. HP has turned the spotlight on UDC as its proof point for adaptive infrastructure. UDC is not the whole of…the infrastructure but it…proves that HP knows what they are doing in this area and that the are not trailing the others.”

HP’s Emmett concurred, and said that it is not when you join the game, but what you deliver that matters.

“I think what differentiates us in the market is that our customers are actually using these capabilities and are able to implement the Adaptive Management Platform today,” he said. “We don’t just talk about it, we do it.”

– With files from IDG News Service