HP looks to OpenView for software future

Last week, ARN presented Part 1 of an an interview with HP Executive vice-president for Enterprise Systems Group, Peter Blackmore, and HP executive vice-president and CTO, Shane Robison, about HP’s commitment to its venerable OpenView platform as its enterprise software lynchpin. This week, ARN’s former editor-in-chief Mark Jones and IDG’s Tom Yager ask the pair about partnering, WebSphere, goals, evolution and virtualisation.

When you talk about partnering, do you have to enter into exclusive arrangements with these big players?

Robison: In general this is very market driven. And no, we don’t have to have exclusive relationships. The attraction to BEA was they have good technology, they have a great market share position, and they’re not IBM. The reason I threw that in is that OpenView also understands and will work with IBM platform. One of the things that we have to be is open — open is a big, big deal to us. That’s why there is no reason to have exclusive agreements. We will have agreements where our stuff is better because we work closer, like the BEA agreement. We also go to market with Oracle, with their middleware stuff. And some of the smaller players, like Iona — [there’s] nothing in the way of doing that. We have a huge services play around .Net and going to market with Microsoft. We [also] have a huge services play around BEA and going to market with them. Our view is the two important environments are .Net and J2EE. All of our customers, almost without exception, have both. Our real strength is we’re the only company who’s really in a position to understand both at a deep level and to understand how they work together, which will be absolutely necessary if we go to the next level which is management of full Web services.

Blackmore: We could also operate WebSphere within our stack.

IBM is treating WebSphere as the important layer of intelligence that manages Web services in this rich Web services environment you alluded to. Is OpenView able to directly compete with that type of platform?

Robison: OpenView, combined with some of our partners’ technology, will be a very competitive solution. You still need the application servers and the .Net stuff, Web Logic stuff, or BEA. You still need those layers because at IBM that’s all lumped into the WebSphere solution. You still need security, directories, all those things. OpenView, as people currently understand it, needs the rest of the pieces. Our vision for adaptive infrastructure and the management at that level and the full solution stack that we’ve put together is more than competitive for what’s going on in WebSphere.

Is the goal of OpenView to eventually become productised as some form of business process management tool or orchestration engine?

Robison: Yes. If you think about what the CIO is trying to do, they’re trying to architect efficient interaction between the business applications. The long-term vision for OpenView is to be able to monitor those interactions, and based on that information drive all kinds of changes: virtualisation, reprovisioning, changes in service-level agreements that ripple back through the OpenView technology that we have today and some that we don’t have. So the long-term vision, at the business applications architecture level, is to be able to manage the infrastructure from that point of view and then drive that through an efficient IP infrastructure.

From an engineering standpoint, how difficult is this going to be?

Robison: It’s an ongoing evolution. We went from totally manual to OpenView, [which] was a big step in terms of automisation. We’ve got several more steps to go. There are a number of tools that are out there, there are some standards that are helping. Standards are a big piece. [If] we can get the J2EE standard and the .Net standard established, that’ll make automating this a whole lot easier.

How involved are you on J2EE? Are you less involved from an engineering standpoint now?

Robison: We are very involved and care a lot about the evolution of the standard. We’re very directly interacting with Sun and Microsoft, in terms of there’s a whole bunch of things that are getting sorted out. We care a lot about that so we’re very involved in that. We’re also very involved on the .Net side, trying to help make sure that we have a well thought out [evolution] for that.

OpenView’s ability to become part of this Web services management stack relies upon being network-centric in its approach. At the core of the datacenter and out to the edge, don’t switches and routing appliances need to start dealing with SOAP and XML in much more intelligent ways?

Robison: More standards [are needed].

How do you see that space evolving, and are you working with players like Cisco and 3Com who have been in this market for a long time?

Robison: We do have a little networking business — “little” is the operative word. We have a very serious partnership with Cisco, which is obviously the industry leader, and if you want to say it — standard, for this space. We’ve got a relationship with 3Com, and Cisco is our big partner.

Blackmore: It’s back to inter­operability. You can’t exclude the whole network management [stack] from the infrastructure, it’s all interwoven. We think [our plans are] very helpful to Cisco.

Robison: And they believe that as well. There’s an ongoing set of discussions around the management of all the elements, like storage and other things, and how can we integrate at a software level to make that work better together.

What’s on the horizon for that partnership?

Robison: You’ll see more and more in-depth integration of what we’re doing with EDC and what they’re doing. We’ve got that under way. I don’t want to make any pre-announcements, but you’ll see more [come out] in terms of a specific engagement on the storage side.

In terms of the seven-layer network stack, where are the first points of entry at which the OpenView model starts becoming applied? Is it on the edge? Are you going to start from the UDC and build it out?

Robison: That’s a hard one, because [with our solutions], you can do both. We’ve got element management and we’ve also got this capability to do full virtualisation. So you can actually do both.

But virtualisation is one of those misleading terms, because again, that’s an abstraction model.

Robison: Ours is a real capability. With UDC you can do real virtualisation across your storage and server infrastructure, so you can do both. And at the element level — that’s been OpenView’s strong suit for a number of years. So at the edge and at the element level, we’re already there. We have been for a long time.