Even after spending more than US$1 billion on Opsware, HP is nowhere near the software provider IBM is. And that’s not likely to change soon. What may be more interesting is what kind of software provider HP becomes, and which kind provides more important to IT managers.
Along with its buyouts of NeoWare and (a little earlier) Mercury Interactive, HP went from being the maker of a middling suite called OpenView into a bona fide player following the Opsware deal. I recently talked with Fusepoint, an Opsware customer, about their implementation, and the president told me he was blown away by its product compared to the competition.
On the other hand, data centre automation may be an area of relatively short-term focus for IT departments. Once you’ve gotten rid of the manual tasks, the next natural step is to figure out how the business is performing overall, which is why analytics has been in such demand. It also explains why IBM has spent much more time buying companies like Datamirror (among many, many others) to bolster its acquisition of Rational several years ago. Big Blue stands to become a significant force in BI, which is funny considering that the company spent much of the last 10 years proving it could handle the tactical side of IT through its Global Services division. HP is also dipping its toe into the BI space — witness its purchase of Neoview earlier this year, which handles data warehousing — but it would have to spend a lot more to put it on a competitive footing with IBM. And if you believe that the future will be based on trends and forecasting (as I do), HP better hope it’s spending wisely.