HP and Opsware forge UDC partnership

Moving forward with its Adaptive Enterprise strategy, Hewlett-Packard Co. recently announced a strategic partnership with Opsware Inc., which will give HP customers integrated access to Opsware software.

The partnership combines the Utility Data Centre (UDC) – HP’s answer to on-demand computing – with Opsware’s data centre automation software, resulting in what the companies call a utility computing solution that virtualizes computing resources, meters applications and automates software reducing the overhead costs of running an enterprise data centre.

“Companies are still struggling to clean up the mess of the Internet boom,” said Marc Andreessen, chairman of Opsware during a teleconference. “They now have to manage enormous infrastructures…and have had to increase IT staffing. [Research has shown] that 70 per cent of IT budgets go to labour and headcount. With the integrated solution HP and Opsware are providing, customers will be able to lower data centre costs by 50 per cent.”

Opsware, formerly Loudcloud Inc., offers automated provisioning, deployment, change, scaling, security, recovery and server reallocation through its Opsware System suite. The HP UDC offers virtualization of computing resources including networking, servers, storage, operating systems as well as application provisioning in heterogeneous environments. Together, the combined offering will reduce enterprise IT operating costs and initial application deployment times.

“Our offerings are extremely well-aligned,” said Nick Van der Sweep, director of Utility Computing for HP. “The UDC offers rapid deployment of applications, while Opsware software does the fine-grained software configuration, and also handles the continued maintenance of software applications.”

The rapid onset and constant dimension of change in customers’ datacenter environments required HP’s UDC to incorporate server provisioning as part of its repertoire, said Donna Scott, vice-president and research director at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner.

Despite its aggressive marketing tactics, Scott noted that IBM has been lagging in putting together tangible products which satisfy the utility computing vision. The Gartner analyst said that Big Blue “has to deliver more,” and its recent purchase of ThinkDynamics follows suit of Sun’s buying of Terraspring and the UDC announcement toward establishing a base level of virtualization technology.

“[Virtualization] enables you to abstract. You are able to operate and manage (servers) at a higher level, such that if you move a server from eCommerce application to an ERP application. … what took you a whole day could take you a couple of hours,” Scott remarked.

Van der Sweep explained that the newly forged partnership is a three-fold deal. While the two companies are working together in R&D to integrate Opsware software with the HP UDC, HP will also become a distributor of Opsware software, enabling HP UDC customers to purchase Opsware software with UDC products. Through the deal, HP Services will also become an Opsware-authorized partner, offering HP customers Opsware-related services including workshops, ROI analyses, installation and deployment services, in addition to ongoing management and administration of the Opsware System.

In a recently published analysis, Frank Gillette, a senior analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., said “some observers remain reluctant to buy form small tech vendors. This deal should put buyers’ fears to rest on both the efficacy and visibility of Opsware’s technology.”

Gillette added, however, that in talking to two of Opsware’s prospective clients who were interested in the product, he found that they “were put off by the [US]$1,000 per server price tag,” and decided to pass on Opsware in favor of solutions such as Microsoft’s Automated Deployment Services or IBM’s Director.

HP’s UDC and Opsware’s System software are available now, and the companies said they are working on a combined package with further integration of the two due out later this year.

-with files from IDG News Service

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