19 November Systems giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) clarified its web services software strategy today when it announced a new set of products for managing the performance, availability and response times of leading web services software platforms.
At the company’s annual European software conference in Lisbon, HP unveiled a set of web services management Smart Plug-Ins – rules-based software agents capable of semi-autonomous monitoring activities – as well as 30 other new software products and enhancements.
Peter Blackmore, executive vice president of HP’s enterprise systems group, said the product announcements were the first stage of a web services strategy that would focus on the management of web services infrastructures from the network to the application level. At the same time, the company reiterated its intention to resell web services development and deployment tools from Microsoft and BEA Systems.
HP’s Smart Plug-ins for its widely used systems management software suite OpenView will run on the application servers and web services platforms of vendors such as BEA, IBM, Sun, and Microsoft. OpenView accounts for “just under” $1 billion of HP’s annual $5 billion global software business, including fees from maintenance and reseller agreements. That, according to Blackmore, makes HP the fifth largest software company in the world.
OpenView Smart Plug-ins will help customers of OpenView to manage web services application transactions – such as requesting an insurance quote over the Internet – for both Microsoft .Net and Java Two Enterprise Edition (J2EE) platforms. Many analysts believe the two technologies will co-exist within many large organisations.
This announcement revives HP’s ambitions in web services, the new applications programming approach to ‘discovering’, assembling and delivering software modules as a service over the Internet. It follows the company’s June 2002 decision to discontinue its pioneering web services development product, e-Speak, and the application server technology it acquired from Bluestone for $468 million in early 2001.
Analyst Charles Homs at market research company Forrester Research suggests that the company had consistently failed to articulate its vision for web services and failed to gain any credible market share in the applications server market.
Meanwhile, Blackmore rebuffed suggestions that last week’s departure of HP president Michael Capellas had come an awkward point for the company, just six months after its acquisition of Compaq Computer. “I think [his exit] came at a good time for HP. The first stage of the integration [of Compaq’s business] is complete, and he participated well in that.” Blackmore added that HP CEO Carly Fiorina had no plans to replace Capellas.
Capellas left HP to become CEO of the scandal-wracked telecoms company WorldCom.