Mercury rising in HP’s game plan, says Canadian partner

HP’s ongoing strategy vis a vis Mercury Interactive – the management software company HP bought for US$4.2 billion a year ago – was a key focus area at HP’s Software Universe event held here this week.

Several event announcements centred on HP’s game plan for integrating Mercury’s product portfolio with its own.

The new initiatives are getting a thumbs-up from Toronto-based MIC Partner Inc., a software consulting firm and HP technology reseller.

Actually a Mercury-centric shop, MIC Partner focuses on application performance management and automated quality assurance. With Mercury’s acquisition last year, MIC came under the HP partner umbrella.

MIC sales manager, David Mason, said he came to Software Universe looking for an HP commitment to the Mercury legacy platform.

He had been hearing hopeful talk of integration, but until the conference hadn’t seen details, he said. Mason said HP has demonstrated it is indeed committed to these products. “They’re putting a lot of money and R&D into it, so we feel positive about that.”

Hayden Coomber, a director with MIC Partner said while much work still remains to integrate HP and Mercury products, he likes where things are moving.

“The [recent] changes have been dramatic, though I think [it’s] still a long road,” said Coomber. “But once all those points are met the solution becomes much more around the software lifecycle.”

The expansion of what HP calls its Business Technology Optimization (BTO) capabilities is designed to help customers more rapidly deliver reliable and cost effective IT projects on time said Mark Sarbiewski, senior director, solution marketing with HP.

On the former Mercury/quality management side HP introduced updates to Quality Center Software, including integrating business requirements and quality management capabilities into a real-time system.

It also launched LoadRunner software for more advanced testing of Web 2.0, SOA and right Internet applications.

As well, Quality Factory settings, a set of best practices and services for application quality and performances process, was added to HP’s Services Application Lifecycle Optimization offering. The company also introduced a product, Change Control Management Software, which incorporates a change advisory board – recommended in ITIL – into software.

It helps automate approvals processes and reduces the need for multiple change advisory meetings to push changes out to systems, industry watchers say.

“This product can eliminate tasks that a change advisory board would typically have to do,” said Evelyn Hubbert, a senior analyst with Forrester Research. The software, notes Hubbert, incorporates Mercury technology with HP’s focus on service management and ITIL best practices.

“HP has done more work than it has in the past at working across different divisions. The product is a significant step forward in integration.” The goal is to cover the software development cycle from conception and needs research through development, testing and production. Far from slowing down, HP’s Sarbiewski said, more and more custom software development is being done in the enterprise.

What’s changing though, he said, is the kind of development being done. Not as much is being built from scratch, but enterprise software products from SAP (for example) are being customized. That work still needs to be tested, and connectors between different platforms is another popular development area, Sarbiewski said.

“Those connection points are where a lot of things can go wrong, so they need to be verified over and over,” said Sarbiewski. “That’s part of the opportunity we see.” Sarbiewski came to HP as part of the Mercury acquisition, and he said HP’s strategic bet on software and the investments it is making in the core business are creating opportunities Mercury couldn’t have on its own.

Particularly, he said, around building-out a partner ecosystem that can deliver extensions and build on the core software platform.

“That’s something HP brings that Mercury wasn’t very good at,” said Sarbiewski. “We weren’t great at creating that kind of ecosystem to help extend the solution and then deliver it to a large number of customers. We were very focused on the biggest of the big at Mercury.”

Also at Software Universe, MIC Partner was recognized as a top Canadian partner as part of the vendor’s BTO awards. Coomber said the recognition was in large part for MIC’s global work with Nortel Networks.

A large Quality Centre shop with 3,500 daily users, Nortel is a long term MIC client and uses Quality Centre to manage device testing worldwide. Coomber said MIC’s focus is to provide the support and services behind the software to make sure the tools provide the business value our clients are looking for.

“We’re trying to build a practice around building quality centres of excellence and performance centres of excellence,” said Coomber. “Many of our clients have been long-term customers of the solution and yet only using a small per cent age of the actual functionality of the tool.” –

With files from IDG News Service