HP to Talk Utility Computing

Some users struggle with the concept.

As Hewlett-Packard Co. takes its Adaptive Enterprise strategy for utility computing on the road over the next few weeks, it may find it a little more difficult to explain than expected.

A combination of several similar-sounding utility computing initiatives and a general lack of interest in and confusion over the concepts will make HPs efforts to reach corporate customers challenging, observers said.

HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., introduced Adaptive Enterprise in May. Its aim is to make the data center more dynamic and flexible by automating most functions and linking a companys IT infrastructure more closely to its business processes. Those goals, however, are similar to IBMs on-demand computing initiative and Sun Microsystems Inc.s N1 strategy.

Competing programs aside, researchers are finding a disconnect between vendors views on utility computing and user perceptions and needs. A recent report from consulting company Saugatuck Technology Inc. said users disagreed with vendors on everything from when utility computing would be common practice to the motivators behind and inhibitors of the push.

For example, utility computing isnt even on the radar screen of Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive LLC, known as Factiva. It might make sense later but not now, said Dennis Cahill, associate vice president of technology at Factiva, which includes HPs AlphaServers in its IT infrastructure.

"It would really get down to cost benefit," said Cahill, in Princeton, N.J. "It might change our world in three or four years down the road, but in the short term, it really wont have any impact on us."

"There appears to be a significant difference in what vendors and their ... end users understand by the term utility computing and what they expect to get out of it," said Mike West, an analyst with Saugatuck, in Westport, Conn. "Vendors are trying to sell something called utility computing, but users dont seem to understand what theyre talking about."

Mark Linesch, vice president of Adaptive Enterprise for HP, said company officials will continue to preach the Adaptive Enterprise message to HP users this week at the companys HP World conference in Atlanta. Part of that message will be outlining what already has been done over the past three months, including enhancements to the companys OpenView management software and the rollout of its Integrity line of servers based on Intel Corp.s 64-bit Itanium chip.

"All these things are practical, real-world examples that we can do today," Linesch said.

Last week, HP boosted the power of its ProLiant blade servers, important components of the Adaptive Enterprise strategy, with faster Intel processors. Blade servers fit well with the idea behind the Adaptive Enterprise initiative, to give businesses greater flexibility in deploying and provisioning their IT resources, HP officials said.