Interoperability key to HP Web services plans

Hewlett-Packard Services (HPS), the services division of Hewlett-Packard Co., aims to use partnerships with Microsoft Corp. and BEA Systems Inc., plus the company’s own OpenView software, to lead the growth of Web services applications, HPS Executive Vice-President Ann Livermore said Monday.

The company’s partnerships, plus its skills in systems integration, will be key to successful Web services deployment, Livermore said.

“We believe BEA, with J2EE, and Microsoft with .Net are the two primary companies in Web services, so we will work with those leaders,” she said.

“One of the great strengths of Hewlett Packard lies in building the fabric to manage open, diverse environments. We believe that our OpenView platform is the most powerful in the industry for managing the entire infrastructure, from the network up through the systems, the storage, the middleware and up to the application. It’s important for customers to be able to manage that holistically rather than element by element,” Livermore said in an interview.

“We think customers are ready to start deploying and piloting services so we’ve made the judgement call that the market is starting to mature and we need the additional resource,” Livermore said.

Livermore is therefore reorganizing the services division as part of a “natural evolution” towards .Net services. The company announced a decision last week to partner with Microsoft on promoting .Net and to train 5,000 sales people and 3,000 service professionals in the .Net technology by 2004. It will also add 1,800 consultants to a .Net group, to work along 1,200 current staff.

To be the leading services provider of .Net implementations, HPS must “get in early, do a lot of the groundwork and build the reference sites. Microsoft has selected us and right now we’re the only worldwide prime integrator. There’s great power in being first and doing the first big deployments,” Livermore said.

The HP/Compaq merger has seen the services organization grow to 65,000 people in 160 countries, and moved HP from the seventh or eighth largest service provider in the market to third place, Livermore said. “From a customer perspective, bigger is better, because it means that we have the capacity to do bigger projects – or to do smaller projects locally.”

The merger has gone fairly smoothly, with human issues the hardest to deal with. “You can’t deal with emotional issues with analytical answers, and I’ve done a lot of travelling and talking to people.” While some staff cuts were necessary in back office areas, “there have not been any business units dropped because the two companies actually had very complementary business units. HP had more of a leaning towards Unix and Linux, Compaq towards Windows. So the two together are tremendously strong.”

A consistent structure has been put in place globally, she said, with an HPS manager in each country, and then three lines of business: consulting, managed services and customer support. “In some small companies we will have one manager share the responsibility for those areas, but the structure is the same,” she said.

Livermore claims to be unfazed by the purchase of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ consulting business by IBM Corp. “We have a different strategy to IBM. Our strategy is to team with leading systems integrators and have them focus on the business process aspects, and have HP be fabulous at the IT infrastructure – designing and building and running it. IBM is trying to do it all themselves, and we don’t think that’s what customers want.”

Web services will be “an important part of the new computing architecture, and we believe there’s a great future around them. And who can bring it all together better than HP? We know about the devices, we can work on the infrastructure, we can work with partners on the services, and deploy them too,” Livermore said.