OpenView users ask HP for less complexity, more support

Installing and using enterprise management software is complex and expensive, but does it have to be? That was the question asked in Montreal last week by OpenView users who want Hewlett-Packard Co. to simplify its pricing and its upgrade and support processes.

A dozen attendees at the HP Software Forum 2004 conference said they were dazzled by the development plans the vendor announced for new management tools to support its Adaptive Enterprise on-demand computing strategy. Nonetheless, eight of the users added that they’re disgruntled about complex and confusing product upgrades, customer service procedures and pricing strategies.

“It’s kind of a nightmare, frankly, dealing with HP service and support,” said Randy Ellefsen, enterprise management architect at Gambro Healthcare Inc. in Lakewood, Colo. Ellefsen said his problems with support stem partly from wanting to get a specific version of OpenView Performance Agent to conform with his company’s installation. But no one at HP was able to locate a CD-ROM with the proper version because of an issue with the product’s name and code number, he said, adding that he had to deal with “too many layers of HP bureaucracy.”

Asked what areas HP could improve upon with its management software, Gabor Mero, technology manager at PepsiCo Inc.’s Central European operations, said, “Support is lacking.” Mero’s unit in Budapest has installed about US$300,000 worth of HP software over the past 18 months. But on a scale of one to 10 for support, “I’m afraid they only get a three,” he said. “We are the guinea pig in Central Europe.”

Both Ellefsen and Mero praised HP for its technology innovation and direction and said they plan to continue working with its management products. But they added that they would like HP to provide more definitive information about software upgrade paths.

Mero said he has had problems getting full functionality from HP’s OpenView Network Node Manager software on a monthly basis for the past year. He has repeatedly been told by HP support personnel that the next version will solve the problems, but they have been unclear about when the upgrade will be available. “They say, ‘Once we know when it will be ready, we will tell you,’ ” he said.

HP’s software pricing structure is also unnecessarily complex, said Mark Tichenel, chief application architect at New York-based Ernst & Young LLP, which uses a variety of OpenView products. “We are constantly in turmoil over HP pricing,” he said. “It has to be much more agile.”

In response, Bill Emmett, HP’s chief solutions manager for management software, defended the company’s pricing structure and said its software products are sold in modules “to give customers as much freedom as possible.” He added that HP’s licensing policies are “on par (with) or better than competitors’ pricing.”

As for the complaints about too much complexity, Todd DeLaughter, vice-president of HP’s management software unit, said analysts have praised the Service Desk software for its quickness in solving problems for users. But he acknowledged that customers want more simplicity in other product groups. “A general theme in this industry is that we need simpler products that deploy easier with a better out-of-the-box experience,” DeLaughter said.

HP is working with Intel Corp. to preconfigure Xeon- and Itanium-based servers with management software to “take the complexity out of the installation and deployment,” DeLaughter said. He wouldn’t comment on when the bundled systems will be available.

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