HPs Mercury Buy Boosts SOA Play

HP's acquisition of Mercury Interactive gives the systems maker a lift in the SOA governance arena, and pits it directly against IBM.

Hewlett-Packards $4.5 billion deal to acquire Mercury Interactive is the right fit for service-oriented architecture, analysts said.

HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., announced the deal on July 25. HP officials said the move combines HPs OpenView systems, network and IT service management software with Mercurys capabilities in application management, application delivery, IT governance and SOA governance.

"Its a big deal," said Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HPs Technology Solutions Group, of the companys new SOA capabilities. "We had rudimentary SOA management capabilities, but one of the things we love is the SOA management aspect and the application management we get with Mercury. That was a very significant consideration in this. It was something we needed."

Industry observers said this deal is a clear sign that SOA governance is now a major part of the management stack.

Ronald Schmelzer, a Baltimore-based analyst with ZapThink, said the HP acquisition of Mercury makes it "clear that governance and the registry are becoming a key part of companies enterprise architectures, so much so that it makes sense to incorporate those capabilities as part of the overall enterprise systems management and infrastructure that companies come to depend on today."

In particular, SOA is driving many companies to adopt common strategies for governance and management in a world of increasing heterogeneity, Schmelzer said.

Moreover, Schmelzer said that for HP to continue to play in the enterprise system management and enterprise architecture space, they need to have a strong story around governance and heterogeneous systems management.

"The purchase of Mercury goes a long way to meeting these specific requirements because they recently purchased Systinet and they have significant capabilities for SOA governance, registry and repository, and policy management," he said.

In addition, Schmelzer said he believes the move enables HP to tackle the entire service life-cycle.

Schmelzer said before the Mercury acquisition, HP "primarily had capabilities [that came into play] once applications were deployed. With Mercury and Systinet under their belt they can credibly approach the design, test and deployment phases of the life-cycle and not just deployment and management."

Meanwhile, Miko Matsumura, vice president of technology standards at Infravio, which competes in the SOA governance space, said the deal could help place HP at the center of the systems management arena for emerging SOA initiatives.

However, Matsumura said there is something to be said for independence, which Infravio has.

"HP, Mercury and Systinet provide a strong solution for governance, but is weighted heavily towards centralized IT and control of IT systems," Matsumura said.

"As an independent vendor of SOA Governance Registry Repository, Infravios solution becomes even more important for enabling federated organizations to achieve business agility."

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about HPs $4.5 billion purchase of Mercury Interactive.

The market research firm TBR (Technology Business Research), based in Hampton, N.H., issued a statement on the deal that noted the importance of the SOA governance piece.

"TBR believes customers making the switch to SOA-based systems will receive the most benefit from aligning their software management buys with those firms that can provide hardware, software and integration services—namely IBM and now HP," the TBR statement said.

Meanwhile, Borland, which both competes with and partners with Mercury, and also partners with HP, said the deal validates the need for control over processes.

"HPs acquisition of Mercury is a strong validation that companies need—and will continue to invest in—solutions that help them manage their IT investments and ensure those investments are of the highest quality [i.e. testing]," said Rick Jackson, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of products at Borland.

"And with business increasing reliance on IT, the need to have more control over those processes will only increase in the coming years."

The addition of Mercury is expected to increase the size of HPs software business to more than $2 billion in annual revenue, HP said.

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