Network, systems and application management are about to get cosier at Hewlett-Packard, which last week said it is binding diverse products together with a common user interface and standard data sharing technology.
The plan emerged during the HP OpenView Forum & Universe conference, amid a slew of announcements of new management software products and releases directed at the 2500 attendees. The products include a policy-based management application and response-time measurement software.
HP has built many products to address different areas of management, but the products traditionally have had inconsistent interfaces and haven't shared data as much as they could have, acknowledges Olivier Helleboid, general manager of HP's OpenView software business unit.
That will start to change late this year. Upcoming releases of HP's various management products will have a consistent look and feel.
They will share a common event browser, for example, and they will have a user interface similar in layout to Microsoft's Outlook software, HP executives say.
Once the user interface is consistent across operating systems and management applications, managers will have to learn only one way of navigating through HP software. And sharing management data among systems, networks and applications should let managers get a better picture of how effectively an enterprise's end users are getting to the resources they need.
HP will also work the Common Information Model (CIM) into future releases to allow the company's applications to share data more easily. CIM is a standard under development by the Desktop Management Task Force to provide a way for software to exchange management information. While CIM is intended to help different vendors' applications talk to each other, HP is using CIM in its own product line as a unifying mechanism. Helleboid says this change won't be visible to users.
HP has taken a somewhat different path in terms of product development than competitors Computer Associates and Tuvalu Systems. HP has developed products to fit specific needs, while CA and Tivoli fit their products into an overall framework.
All three companies integrate systems and network management, but HP hasn't had the same consistent look across individual products.
Products announced at last week's show address these areas:
Policy-based management. HP is dipping its toe into this area with OpenView PolicyXpert, which lets users set up different classes of service for network traffic. Future versions will expand to include security, HP executives say.
PolicyXpert uses the Common Open Policy Services standard currently under development to communicate policies to network hardware.
The initial version of PolicyXpert will run on Windows NT and work with high-end routers from Cisco, Hitachi and Intel; LAN switches that include Lucent's Cajun series and HP's ProCurve; Intel network interface cards; HP-UX servers; and Packeteer's traffic shaper.
Software distribution. HP is enhancing its Desktop Administrator (DTA) product with a "publish and subscribe" method of distributing software to desktop PCs. End users can choose what applications they want installed, and DTA 5.0 will send them updates on those applications when they become available.
Network management. Version 6.1 of HP's flagship NNM adds management for Cisco Catalyst switches. The software can now detect how the switches are connected, which devices are attached and which virtual LANs are configured.
In addition, the software now has 13 canned reports, so managers can graph router availability, CPU utilisation and other metrics.