Adaptive Enterprises

HP, IBM round out their utility computing product offerings.

Top-tier vendors are fleshing out utility computing strategies and initiatives that are designed to virtualize the data center, making resources easier to manage in response to business demands.

Hewlett-Packard Co. trumpeted its Adaptive Enterprise strategy at its HP World show here last week.

Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina said everything the company is doing on the enterprise side is aimed at the strategy, which was announced in May.

To further that plan, the Palo Alto, Calif., company announced that it will buy Atlanta-based Extreme Logic Inc., which helps businesses deploy solutions based on Microsoft Corp.s .Net platform. About 200 employees from Extreme Logic will be folded into HP Services, giving that unit greater Web services consulting capabilities.

In addition, Peter Blackmore, executive vice president of HPs Enterprise Systems Group, said in an interview that HP will lower the cost of entry to its UDC (Utility Data Center)—a hardware and software package that is a cornerstone of Adaptive Enterprise.

The next release of UDC early next year will include greater modularity, to give more customers access to the technology, and better support for Linux. Rather than having to buy the entire UDC package at once—in what Blackmore called "a big-bang approach"—businesses will be able to bring parts of it in as needed, making it much less cost- prohibitive.

"[Currently] you have to replace a lot of equipment, so were honest with customers. We dont say this is right for everybody," Blackmore said. "What the UDC team is doing is were building a building-block approach. [The next release of UDC is] going to be much more modular so people can approach this in a planned way."

Enterprises can take the first step, server consolidation, and when theyre ready, take the next step, storage consolidation, Blackmore said. The third step is ramping up the management software with HPs OpenView.

For its part, IBM last week began offering on-demand development tools—including Version 1.1 of its Emerging Technologies Toolkit—that will make it easier for developers to create e-business applications for grid and on-demand computing environments. The tool kit, available on a 90-day trial basis at IBMs AlphaWorks Web site, includes on-demand technologies such as Autonomic Manager Toolset and Self-healing/Optimizing Autonomic Computing Demo.

In addition, a source close to the Armonk, N.Y., company said IBM, as part of its on-demand computing push, will announce later this year new and expanded versions of its Tivoli software designed to automate provisioning and improve asset utilization.

IBM last week also announced a large customer win over HP when Lego Co., of Billund, Denmark, said it would replace its 230 HP systems with 34 IBM servers. Officials with the toy maker said IBMs power-on-demand servers, which are delivered with only some of the processors turned on, was a key factor in their decision. More processors can be turned on, when business demands dictate, and later turned off, with a company paying only for the power it uses.

HP and IBM are among a growing number of vendors—including Sun Microsystems Inc., with its N1 initiative—looking to more closely link IT infrastructures with business processes via utility computing.

Ken Spenard, a systems administrator at Iron Mountain Inc., said at the show here that his company is taking a cautious approach to HPs Adaptive Enterprise initiative. The Boston-based document archiving company, which currently has its mission-critical applications on Unix-based HP 9000 servers, is running a test with Linux on other HP systems, and so far the results have been encouraging.

"[Utility computing] kind of has a lot of people scratching their heads; theyre still going a little slow right now," Spenard said. "Were definitely taking a long-armed look at it. Were exploring everything. Its definitely driven by [the idea of] saving money. If this Adaptive Enterprise thing really goes the way they say it can go, it could be good."

Eric Ringwall, vice president and general manager of technology for McKesson Information Solutions, said utility computing strategies such as Adaptive Enterprise are important for companies that have seen their data centers grow to include a tangle of heterogeneous servers, storage devices and networking systems.

"Its virtually impossible for everyone to put together a business continuity or disaster recovery plan," said Ringwall, whose Alpharetta, Ga., company is a subsidiary of McKesson Corp., a user and reseller of HP products.