OpenView: not artificial intelligence

The buzz in the IT air as of late has been whispering two words: intelligent and networks. The marriage of these words opens up a brave new world of opportunities in network management – easier fixes to network outages and backlogs, and less burden placed on the backs of managers, for example. Hewlett Packard is one company right in the middle of the intelligent networking push, and it’s flagship OpenView product is a key component. Last month, Network World Canada staff writer Carly Suppa talked with Joe Gersch, director of strategic technology for HP OpenView, to discuss the company’s vision in this space as well as its plans for integrating the functionality into its existing offering.

NWC: What is HP’s definition of intelligent networking in terms of OpenView?

Gersch: I think different people mean different things by intelligent networking. My definition of it is providing not just switches and routers, but more in how we deal with services and how we create service-driven, service-centric management. Our strategy has been to not just manage the elements of a network – the switches, the routers and the servers – as a physical set of things connected together. Our strategy has been to have our point products work together so you can work not just bottoms up, but also tops down to define a set of services and what the elements are that comprise those services. You also have to worry about the end-to-end performance aspects of the network…Our strategy is to integrate the point products together to be service-centric (and) service-driven.…The key is integration.

NWC: What are OpenView customers saying? What suggestions have they made?

Gersch: A lot of what we are getting is the desire for more “in your face” network management. What I mean by that is with the integration of products, you can have a lot of operators with a lot of different responsibilities. Not everybody is trained on every nuance of every product. When something goes wrong, what are you supposed to do? Part of the integration aspect is to bring things together where all the tools are right there. Rather than just have the light turn red and say you’ve got a problem, they want to see a set of tools that resolve that problem. Network operators don’t want to be Homer Simpson and watch the light turn red. They want to be able to do something. With OpenView, we have built a whole new integrated console. Suppose you have 15 things to manage and they all turn red at the same time. Which one are you supposed to deal with first? With just a one-touch troubleshoot, you can bring in the things on a single pane of glass, rather than asking, “What do I do now?” This is bringing the power of network management to an operator in a more automated fashion.

NWC: What are the major obstacles that OpenView is faced with in terms of intelligent networking?

Gersch: Part of it is having the right sensors in place so that you are not just managing network performance. The barriers are not just technical. First there is organization and then there is the integration to pass from tool to tool. The tool-to-tool communication and the whole integrated service management message is coming together with the technology and it is working now. We are delivering now. People are starting to get it.

NWC: What are HP’s future plans for OpenView?

Gersch: With all of the component pieces, the technologies on those will continue to advance. But on another front, we are getting back to that service-driven technology. There is a whole concept of integrated service management (ISM). We are looking at how we can use an ISM strategy and how we can automate the delivery of services. Primarily OpenView is the service assurance piece. But adding technologies to an interconnect strategy will allow them to really communicate the knowledge each piece has to each other. For example, there is billing information, there’s bandwidth usage, etc. All these pieces have their own local pieces of information. Now they are passing this information back and forth to each other.

NWC: How does HP plan to roll out this strategy?

Gersch: We do have a lot of building to do to make it so that the pieces can be snapped together. But what we are learning is that customers don’t want just management of pieces. They want it all to sing together.