HP develops tool for analyzing IT changes

Hewlett-Packard Co. plans to announce three OpenView management tools at its software user conference in Miami Beach tomorrow, including new analytics software that is designed to run "what-if" simulations of potential changes to IT systems, operations and staffing levels.

For example, an IT manager could use the OpenView DecisionCenter 1.0 analytics tool to determine the additional personnel and IT infrastructure costs of improving server uptime inside a data center, said Bill Emmett, HP's manager of OpenView marketing. DecisionCenter is based on technology that HP acquired when it bought Peregrine Systems last December.

Also being announced at the HP Software Forum 2006 is OpenView AssetCenter 5.0, an upgrade of a Peregrine- developed tool for managing the full life cycle of IT assets. In addition, HP will roll out OpenView Application Insight 7.0, a new version of an internally developed tool that gives IT managers views of the dependencies among applications, servers and other devices on a network.

Mark Bradley, vice president of infrastructure at a global bank that he asked not be named, said he had worked with HP in recent months to improve the DecisionCenter tool. "So far, it is a unique product," Bradley said, adding that the analytics software is designed to help users "improve the efficiency of IT."

For example, Bradley said he has used the tool to analyze how the operations in two mirrored data centers would be affected if he moved two people to jobs outside the facilities. The analysis considered factors such as the job functions that would be lost within the data centers and whether systems maintenance work might slip and for how long.

Bradley has also used the software to generate a predictive analysis of the impact that virtualizing a group of servers would have on performance and costs. He said the bank will implement both DecisionCenter and AssetCenter after they become available in commercial releases, which is scheduled for later this year.

Unisys helped HP develop DecisionCenter following HP's acquisition of Peregrine, said Sumeet Malhotra, global director of advanced research at Unisys. Unisys plans to resell DecisionCenter with its 3D Visible Enterprise consulting program, which is designed to help users set long-term plans that include their IT infrastructure needs.

Malhotra said that the first version of DecisionCenter doesn't provide insight into the details and "archeology" of existing IT resources. To provide those capabilities, Unisys will supplement the HP software with its own tools and consulting services. But DecisionCenter "still has a lot of value alone," Malhotra said, adding that Unisys has already deployed it internally and at three user organizations.

Dennis Drogseth, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates said DecisionCenter "represents a big opportunity for HP." He noted that the new tool is part of a trend in which HP and competitors BMC Software, CA and IBM are offering products that bring together data about IT processes, system architectures and costs so it can be modeled and analyzed. But, Drogseth said, DecisionCenter is distinctive in its focus on using metrics to help users "align IT operations with service quality and cost."

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