Hardware

HP rejiggers utility computing line

Firm dismantles Utility Data Center in favor of data center automation program designed to make IT operations more efficient.

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By Martin LaMonica
CNET News.com

Hewlett-Packard next year will take a fresh approach to its utility computing initiative with a product designed to reduce the cost of running corporate computing systems.

The company introduced on Monday its HP OpenView Automation Manager, a network management application that combines the tools gained from acquisitions of smaller firms Consera Software and Novadigm earlier this year. The product, which will start at about $1,000 per server, will be generally available in the first quarter of next year, HP executives said.

The new tool is HP's attempt to recast its discontinued Utility Data Center product, designed to let administrators pool servers and storage systems so that tasks could be shifted as demands shifted. Although UDC was one of the more notable early examples of the concept of utility computing, the entire system cost millions of dollars to implement, and few customers ever installed it, HP said in September. The company is now selling software, services and hardware separately, rather than as a bundled package.

"We found that customers didn't want an integrated, all-in-one solution. No matter what we integrated, they wanted something different," said Nora Denzel, senior vice president of HP's Adaptive Enterprise, the company's initiative to reduce IT costs by bringing utilitylike computing to business customers. The idea, pursued by several other companies, including IBM and Sun, is to let customers purchase computing power based on usage, much as people buy electricity.

With OpenView Automation Manager, customers can automatically adjust their servers to meet changes in computing demand. It includes a tool that enables system administrators to create a visual model of their business operations in order to get a better picture of their IT infrastructure and to automate maintenance tasks.

For example, a financial-services company could automatically provision additional servers to meet a spike in processing demand or do scheduled maintenance, such as installing security patches on a monthly basis. By automating these types of administrative jobs, corporate customers get more out of their machines, said David Gee, vice president of marketing for adaptive management at HP.

"It's all around modeling. If we can communicate with our customers on modeling infrastructure, applications and business processes, what you'll see is a significant reduction in maintenance costs of a CIO's infrastructure," Gee said.

HP has moved some of the people who were working on the Utility Data Center to work on its Automation Manager product, executives said. The new product includes the automation and work flow tools HP gained from Novadigm and Consera, as well as work from HP's development labs.

HP also on Monday introduced its first so-called federated identity management offering, which adheres to the Liberty Alliance specification. The product, called OpenView Select Federation, lets a person log on to several different Web sites at once. OpenView Select Federation is based on a product HP is reselling from a company called Trustgenix.

In addition, HP announced OpenView Service Desk 5.0, an upgrade to its IT operation support program, which includes a revamped user interface and improved tools for tracking system performance.

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