HP's DeLaughter on adaptive enterprise

Todd DeLaughter, vice president and general manager of the Management Software Organization at Hewlett-Packard, talked last week with senior writer Matt Hamblen about the company's on-demand strategy, which it calls the adaptive enterprise. He also weighed in on HP's competitors and spoke about a new HP Technical User Conference coming in the fall of 2005. Excerpts from that interview follow:

How did HP get started with its Adaptive Enterprise strategy and what is the central purpose?

Adaptive Enterprise is a vision of taking customers toward the synchronization of IT with business directives. Part of that implies being able to respond to changes in a more rapid fashion. It's a bold vision, and there are many steps along the path. And it's not going to be one-stop shopping.

We've been on this strategy for about two years, so it started around the time of the Compaq acquisition by HP. Internally, we saw challenges for our massively large companies and the changes inherent in bringing systems and people together. That resulted in discussions (about) the amount of money required to just do maintenance on IT systems. When we started, we were at about 70 percent of our budget spent on IT maintenance, and through steps we have evolved our IT organization to flip that around, so that we have a target in the first year of spending 45 percent on maintenance and 55 percent on new growth in IT initiatives, and we're driving toward a goal of 30 percent on maintenance and 70 percent for new growth. And we think that's an achievable goal for our customers, based on what we do internally.

When you deal with large systems, such as one with 230,000 e-mail accounts, a key element is process change. IT is seen as a service through IT service management and ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) standards management, which is a European-led initiative and has come to North America as well.

Clearly, there are steps in evolving the organizational view, but once you have that in place, there's a series of things you need to do from the product standpoint to help business get in alignment with services. Our HP OpenView Service Desk product is an example, which has a central representation of all the configuration information in a system, which allows an end-to-end view of the system. Going forward, all our products will leverage a common object model approach, and the advantage is to have a single view of the data.

After that is a service management level, which responds to the need to connect a service to business drivers, showing a business how an IT infrastructure is allowing it to succeed or blocking it from succeeding. A lot of people in the industry are talking about this, but it's not necessarily being achieved.

In our approach to business process modeling, customers work with the Accentures of the world to model business processes, and we help them understand how steps in the process depend on the infrastructure, such that if a step fails, we can tell what kind of revenue impact there will be.

This is where your Business Process Insight comes into play?

We announced OpenView Business Process Insight in Montreal in June, and announced that Swisscom is working with it. With BPI in that environment, we had modeled the IT impact against a business process in two to three days. With BPI, they found that a credit check on their customers was failing 25 percent of the time and was causing a (ninefold) delay in getting new users online. ... Once you are able to connect the IT infrastructure back to business needs, you start giving back knowledge so the business managers understand how to modify the systems. And the next step is to do that in a more automated fashion, whether through servers or applications. That's where this is going. ... Nobody is there today, but it's the state we want to drive toward.

How is HP going to make the next group of products?

We will be building (them) ourselves, or partnering or acquiring. Our acquisition path has included six companies: Talking Blocks, Baltimore Technologies, Trulogica, Novadigm, Consera and Persist Technologies.

How soon are we going to see more automated processes, as you mentioned? That will happen over the next year to 18 months, although there are certainly solutions from HP today that address the notion of virtualization of resources. HP's Utility Data Center (UDC) product is offered to do this, which is a scalable high-end solution that lets organizations virtualize storage and reconfigure it as business needs turn around.

What does HP plan to do with UDC?

UDC is a committed product and on our road map. We are looking to bring value and benefits toward a larger customer base by making it more affordable.

How is HP doing compared to other vendors with on-demand products? There a lot of comparisons between us and IBM (Corp.) Certainly we think that management software is the next frontier for IT, so there are a lot of management vendors, but we're really the two most focused. The strength of HP's services organization and HP's software portfolio brings us into a two-horse race (between) HP and IBM. We feel we have the edge on software and architecture. The Talking Blocks Service Oriented Architecture is a key part as we go forward, and IBM has nothing in this space while we actually deliver on that today.

When it comes to management of the mainframe, that's not really a problem that needs to be solved. We can tap information from the mainframe environment, but the bigger problem is end-to-end service management and modeling, and that's an area where IBM has fallen short.

On another topic, HP has announced a new conference for September 2005 that will bring together technical sessions on HP software and hardware. How is the management software portion of this new show different from the current show known as the HP Software Forum? The Software User Forum is a very focused audience (and is) sponsored by the OpenView users group, and that group is typically using products at the operational level. They are also focused on the current product and how to ... use it. That's a bit different from the CIO level that will be a focus of the new conference. It will address customers who are aware of business challenges and the architecture revolution. CIOs have to act as the compliance officer with Sarbanes-Oxley, for example, and that role will increase over the years.

In a Computerworld survey we conducted in the spring, users said they were worried that on-demand software would be sold by vendors to lock in customers to that vendor's products. How do you react? We have a very heterogeneous strategy. The OpenView naming really applies. We're driven entirely by what customers use in their systems. Expect to see us interoperate well. We're oriented around building blocks. We can certainly adapt.

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