HP to detail CMDB plans

HP this week is set to share details on its plans for integrating Peregrine Systems’ technology into its OpenView management software portfolio and to unveil its strategy for delivering a configuration management database that the company says will help customers collect data from myriad sources.

The company, at its HP Software Forum user conference in Sydney, Australia, this week is scheduled to announce “out-of-the-box integration” between its OpenView Service Desk software and Peregrine’s AssetCenter software, which the company says will help customers better link IT inventory data with financial information.

HP acquired the Peregrine technology late last year to fill a gap in its product suite, the company says. While HP picked up asset tracking capabilities with its 2004 acquisition of Novadigm, asset management technology allows network managers to determine the cost of supporting a desktop over the lifetime of the machine, including software support, hardware maintenance and procurement costs. HP says to get the benefits of the integration, customers will need to buy OpenView Service Desk and OpenView AssetCenter (Peregrine’s product branded for HP).

“HP customers benefit because the roadmap simplifies their transition from point asset management and service desk products to an integrated management platform,” says Jasmine Noel, a principal analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates.

Also at the center of the integrated product set is a CMDB embedded within OpenView Service Desk. HP’s “Active CMDB” strategy could let customers leverage their current products while moving toward new technologies.

“HP takes a federated approach with most of the emphasis on the reconciliation engine,” Noel says. “Federation allows customers to leverage their existing product implementations and helps IT organizations build towards a complete picture in a stepwise manner, [which is] a good thing since no right-thinking CIO will launch a multi-year, mega-integration project where benefits are only derived at the end.”

A federated model, according to HP, enables the software to collect data from multiple sources, but not necessarily store all the data in one monolithic database.

A federated CDMB would involve a centralized database with hooks into other data sources and not require IT manager abandon their existing databases and move configuration data to another server. The federated model would make it possible for data to reside in multiple sources, with the centralized source having knowledge of where the data lies throughout the enterprise.

“It’s import for the information to be close to the data source from which it is collected,” says Bill Emmett, chief solutions manager for HP’s management software. “With our approach, the CMDB just needs to know where the data lives so that it can be collected and accessed quickly.”

Industry watchers predict adopting a CMDB could take years, and IT shops should attempt to tackle it in digestible chunks.

“The most important planning parameter involves taking a phased approach to the CMDB rather than an all-or-nothing cavalry charge up a hill lined with bayonets,” wrote Dennis Drogseth, vice president at research firm Enterprise Management Associates, in a Network World Network and Systems Management newsletter earlier this year.

Despite HP’s move toward integrated products and a federated CMDB, the company may still have some catching up to do. The company’s road map will ultimately require application dependency discovery and topology tools, according to Noel, and competitors have acquired the two vendors with which HP partners to deliver those capabilities: Collation by IBM and Relicore by Symantec.

“While the HP story has been strengthened with Peregrine’s asset discovery capabilities, the acquisition of most of its relationship discovery partners leaves them vulnerable,” Noel says.

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