Hewlett-Packard is making a change in its software strategy to go along with its new approach of leaving chipmaking to Intel.
In order to make its systems more compelling, HP is redirecting software-development spending from application-server middleware to its OpenView management suite and Utility Data Center, a product aimed at balancing application loads within and across businesses' data centers. HP president Michael Capellas says application-server middleware is becoming a commodity unlikely to differentiate IT suppliers. This summer, HP closed its Bluestone Software division--bought in 2000 for $470 million--which made its NetAction application server. Instead, HP will resell BEA Systems Inc.'s popular WebLogic software. This fall, BEA plans to release a version of WebLogic for HP-UX servers running the new Itanium 2 chip.
HP is making OpenView better able to manage networked storage devices and arrays of disks from other vendors, such as EMC Corp. and IBM. It's also developing software for grid computing, which lets scientists and engineers share computational cycles, storage, and data over wide areas. Ultimately, Capellas says, customers should be able to pay for different levels of computing and storage as their jobs require. "You want to get to plug-and-play over a WAN," he says.
Front and center in that effort is Utility Data Center, which combines rack servers, input/output devices, and database and middleware components to let administrators drag and drop additional servers and disks online for a demanding application, then return them to a "free pool" when finished. HP has big plans for Utility Data Center: It's the foundation of an HP Labs initiative called "planetary scale computing," which employs about 100 researchers trying to figure out how adaptive, self-managing systems can communicate over wide areas. That project is a bid to compete with IBM's Project eLiza, which has similar goals.
HP is also integrating Utility Data Center with the Globus Toolkit, a set of component libraries and server-side software that's the standard in the research community for writing grid-computing applications. Says Patrick Scaglia, a center director at HP Labs, "It's our vision of grid computing made real."