HP OpenView customers left scratching their heads

Hewlett-Packard Co. used its annual customer conference last month to announce about a dozen OpenView products – mostly incremental upgrades – but attendees said they found the company less forthcoming than usual about its long-range technology plans.

“They didn’t give us a technology roadmap like they have in past years,” said Paul Edmunds, senior network analyst at Duke Energy Corp. in Charlotte, N.C., speaking of the “OpenView Roadmap” keynote address delivered by HP’s Bill Sudlow, general manager of OpenView research and development.

“I didn’t get an idea of what technology they’re looking at, where it’s going or what’s going to happen and when. I wanted to see product specifics,” Edmunds said.

Edmunds was hoping to hear news on when users may see Network Node Manager 7, the anticipated upgrade to HP’s primary network management software within the OpenView family. HP says details will be revealed by year-end.

Edmunds said he would like to see a better representation of switched networks on Network Node Manager screens and believes HP’s plans to integrate RiverSoft Technologies Ltd. technology with its own should deliver that level of discovery. HP says it is “on track” with the RiverSoft technology integration and that customers should see product news this year.

For now, Edmunds and others will have to be satisfied with Network Node Manager 6.2. Edmunds said the new version gives him better control and visibility into the software’s core facilities.

Richard Glasberg, director of data communications for the commonwealth of Massachusetts, said he brought a staff member to the show to learn more about Version 6.2. So far he’s found the upgrade has better and tighter integration with third-party tools and the HTML tool shows a more defined representation of the network, which helps his 14 staff members manage 20,000 users and 170 state agencies.

The main message HP delivered to conference attendees had to do with what the company calls service management. While this plan is largely aimed at helping service providers better control the way they deliver and bill for services, HP officials said companies stand to benefit from service management concepts, too. Corporations deliver services in the sense of providing e-mail and other applications to end users.

“Internal IT departments must re-invent themselves to behave like a service provider,” said Patty Azzarello, OpenView vice-president and general manager, in her keynote address. “I’m asking enterprises to listen to this service provider stuff because it applies to them as well.”

HP boasts 135,000 OpenView installations worldwide, and has seen 40 per cent growth in its service provider revenue since Azzarello came on board a little more than a year ago. Last week, the company introduced a new publish/subscribe architecture to deliver its software’s capabilities in service provider environments.

Analysts aren’t so sure that HP’s vision will wow companies.

“Half of the enterprise users will care; the other half won’t,” said Jasmine Noel, an analyst with Hurwitz Group Inc. “The more forward-thinking enterprise managers will understand the need to manage services.”

HP is on the Web at www.hp.com.

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