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HP's quest for proactive management

Plenty of vendors are pitching a vision of a new enterprise IT infrastructure that is flexible, reacts in real time and incorporates plenty of new technology, from Web services to identity management to mobile devices and more. Hewlett-Packard Co. calls its strategy, Adaptive Enterprise.

One of the repercussions of this computing shift will be dramatic changes to network management. To help address this, HP has launched a new initiative called Adaptive Management. Mary Johnston Turner, vice president and practice director at Summit Strategies Inc., a Boston-based research firm, recently wrote a report titled, Will Hewlett-Packard's Adaptive Management Makeover Capture CIO Loyalty? sat down with Turner to learn more about what HP is offering.

What does HP mean by Adaptive Management?
It's HP's strategic program to reposition and extend its IT management capabilities. It is designed to link with its broader Adaptive Enterprise concept, which is about synchronizing the performance and cost of IT with the needs of the business. It really is the set of tools needed to synch IT with the needs of business. What are the key benefits of such tools?
Clearly, what HP and others are trying to do with these offerings is to take management beyond being reactive and a monitoring function, which is what OpenView and a lot of other tools are. They collect lots of data and try to help you sift through it. They have alarms and alerts and suggestions for action to take. But, at the end of the day, it is not clear how that data help you fix the problem.

Management now is trending more toward automation and becoming more proactive. There are also new capabilities coming out in terms of identity management and security, so you can apply rules about an individual across all the pieces of the infrastructure. This moves away from silos of technology. Now users can log in anywhere with a password and get a set of services. As you virtualize things and move toward Web services, more and more things are shared.

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What are the most significant changes that HP has made to OpenView to move toward Adaptive Management?
HP has not done much to OpenView, per say. The traditional OpenView products continue to be used to monitor network elements. With Adaptive Management, HP is extending the OpenView architecture through an aggressive acquisition strategy. The recent acquisitions [of Baltimore Technologies, Talking Blocks and others] add more sophisticated capabilities, such as configuration and identity management, and the new architecture coordinates the activities of all these different modules. How does this position HP in relation to competitors, such as Tivoli and Unicenter from Computer Associates International Inc.?
Conceptually, everyone is moving toward more automation, better security management and more synchronization of management. HP has the most sophisticated architecture out there right now. I think they have spent a long time trying to figure out how they move forward without leaving behind the embedded investment. To what extent can businesses really use something like this? How practical is it to set in motion and keep updated?
No business can make the transition in days or months. You measure it in years. HP can't either. It has a two-year road map to get these acquisitions in. But we do think that based on the pain point of an organization, pieces of the vision can get implemented. An organization might be able to automate provisioning and load balancing, or maybe they can do more sophisticated identity management.

The key is having a reasonably digestible menu of pain points. Implement them one at time as needed, then gradually the whole environment will be transferred. That is feasible under the HP architecture. You can plug in a module for the issue you care about, then another when you are ready for the next step. What are the implementation challenges?
In some ways this is a cultural decision. IT organizations have to want to change the way they work. They need to want to challenge their employees in terms of [raising their] skill levels. They will need to run IT more like a service, as opposed to being reactive and just fixing problems.

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