HPs Software Play

Pulls efforts into single organization, promises platform independence

Hewlett-Packard Co. last week laid out a company-wide software consolidation plan and a new strategy based on platform independence.

The company, known as a collection of independent divisions, for the first time pulled all its software efforts into a single organization, headed by strategy architect Bill Russell.

The strategy relies heavily on HPs well-established OpenView management software and services on one side and its growing middleware business—now called Netaction—on the other. The centerpiece of Netaction is technology gained from HPs acquisition of Bluestone Software Inc.

Netaction, led by former Bluestone CEO P. Kevin Kilroy, will try to use the companys XML (Extensible Markup Language) expertise to provide a bridge between Microsoft Corp.s .Net platform and Sun Microsystems Inc.s Java. While IBM has taken a similar stance, this platform-neutral strategy is a powerful one to take, some observers said.

"If you believe XML to be the de facto Internet standard—assuming theyre successful—theyve got an early play. HP has enough depth and breadth to carve out a stake in the market," said Jeff Chick, vice president and general manager for the Americas of S2 Systems Inc., in Dallas, a Bluestone customer.

"Were headed on that path independently," said Vince Hunt, executive vice president of engineering for Altura International, in Monterey, Calif.

Altura uses a Microsoft operating system but a Java application server. "If they can give us better tools for that to happen, thats great."

In fact, HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., intends to invest in the tools area to encourage greater developer activity around Bluestone. And further partnerships are likely, Russell said.

Historically, HPs commitment to software as a business independent of its hardware has been weak. Whats different now is a stronger commitment from the top, including from Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina, said Judith Hurwitz, chairman and chief strategy officer at Hurwitz Group Inc., in Framingham, Mass.

To back up that commitment, HP last week announced 25 new or enhanced software offerings from both the Netaction and OpenView groups.

For Netaction, the product announcements basically consisted of upgrades to allow better integration. For example, Bluestones Total-e-Server can be enhanced with Process Managers workflow automation and process management capabilities.

Likewise, HPs e-Speak is being integrated with Total-e-Server. HP e-Speak EJB (Enterprise JavaBean) Bridge, set for general availability in June, will enable EJBs within the application server to be discovered and to interact with e-Speak-compatible services. Another product due by the end of the year will allow XML-based messaging between e-Speak-compatible services.

For OpenView, new developments focus on managing services and the customer experience, according to Patty Azzarello, general manager for OpenView, in Cupertino, Calif.