HP's system tools can now manage public cloud

Lack of cloud interface standards isn't a deal breaker, but would make processes easier

WASHINGTON - As Hewlett-Packard expands its galaxy of devices, from handhelds to large servers and new networking products from its recent acquisition of 3Com, it's increasing the automation and management capabilities of its systems tools at a similar pace.

HP officials say its release of HP Business Service Management 9, announced at its Software Universe conference here, represents a rebuilding of this system from its foundation. It can now automate more processes as well as support services running externally in outsourced and cloud environments, such as Amazon's EC2, HP said.

HP officials believe that automation is the true path to cost savings, and this latest release of BSM includes some new approaches. It collects system information in real time using alerts instead of scanning, and has combined the services into one transaction database, according to Robin Purohit, vice president and general manager of HP's software products.

BSM couples this data gathering with tools for determining the root causes of a problem and automated remediation capability, which HP said it has expanded in this release.

Although automated remediation capability has improved, Purohit said many users will intervene at that last step and make their own decision on the system's remediation recommendation. That may change in time as their comfort level increases, although in some industries, service providers in particular, there's more of a readiness to rely on an automated response.

Service providers "are highly incented to drive cost out," Purohit said.

HP has been building in support for external cloud providers for over a year, but this latest release of BSM sews those improvements into the broader framework, he said.

Because there is no agreed upon API among cloud providers for interfacing with their systems, HP is building in provider-specific support, although users will also have the tools available to build their connections to a cloud provider. An ideal remedy would be an agreed-upon standard among providers, but "there is not enough interest yet in people for fighting for a public standard because everybody is fighting for land," said Purohit, referring to the market share rush among cloud providers.

Among those speaking at the conference was Theresa Wise, senior vice president and CIO of Delta Airlines Inc. Over the last 18 months, since the completion of its merger with Northwest Airlines, she has been working on combining the systems run by both companies.

Wise is using HP's service management tools to build its merged operation, and said "it has given us, as we have gone through this process, a common language as we work through the integration."

Wise said IT is particularly focused on providing a seamless customer experience that extends out to handhelds. Judging from the number of people in the audience who were checking their handhelds during various presentations, it's a necessary strategy.

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