HP tool combines management functions

In an effort to give IT managers a more complete view of their enterprise networks, Hewlett-Packard Co. earlier this month combined its operations and performance management tools, and added new automated functions into the mix.

The new family of software, called OpenView VantagePoint, can automatically find a new server as it is added to a network, find out what services and applications are running on the server, and set up policies to monitor and manage those services.

Tools in the VantagePoint family also can adjust how much information they collect from software agents distributed around a network — so if a problem is detected, they can start collecting more data. VantagePoint includes the products formerly known as IT/Operations, PerfView and Service Reporter, among others. Companies can install a version of VantagePoint tailored toward operations, one looking just at performance, or both.

Versions will run on HP-UX, Sun Solaris and Microsoft Windows 2000, collecting data from HP agents using Simple Network Management Protocol. The software also will collect data from any agents that use the Windows Management Interface.

The bundling of systems and application management across different operating systems appeals to Dean Hancock, application and network administrator at Pacific Coast Building Products in Sacramento, Calif., which plans to install VantagePoint. “There’s never been a single solution for all those things,” he says.

HP is in step with many other management software vendors, which are moving toward integrating various point packages rather than selling them individually.

“The time of the framework has arrived at last,” says Paul Mason, vice-president of infrastructure software research at International Data Corp., a market research firm in Framingham, Mass. The frameworks are just being built differently

— integrating good point tools together where it makes sense, instead of starting with a framework and plugging in tools. HP will probably move its other existing tools, such as IT Service Management and OmniBack, into the VantagePoint family, Mason says.

By collecting management data through a range of products, HP can provide a business-oriented view, says Magdy Assum, product manager at HP. Instead of looking at individual elements — such as routers and systems — IT managers can see how an outage is affecting a particular business process, such as the “shopping cart” function on an e-commerce site.

Hancock says the business-process view is important for setting priorities. “I may have an opinion of what is mission-critical, and another department may have another idea,” he says. If the software can clearly show what problems are damaging the most important business processes, the debate is settled.

Small vendors such as FirstSense and Landmark already offer software that can dynamically adjust how much data is collected from agents, Mason says. But he adds this is the first time a major management player has implemented the capability.

VantagePoint is scheduled to ship in April, starting at US$20,000.

HP Canada in Mississauga, Ont. is at 1-800-387-3867 or at www.openview.hp.com.