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December 11, 2006

HP discloses Mercury roadmap

As it promised after closing the acquisition of Mercury Interactive Corp a month ago, Hewlett Packard Co is disclosing its plans for the software business at its European user conference in Vienna this week.

By CBR Staff Writer

As previously reported, HP is appropriating Mercury’s Business Technology Optimization (BTO) as the mission for the combined software business, and is dropping both the venerable OpenView and Mercury names.

HP is also announcing this week that it is establishing 10 software centers that group products by audience, and creating a series of BTO process life cycles, providing a best-practices template to show where different HP and Mercury products fit with IT management processes.

As expected, the roadmap leverages some preexisting interfaces between some of Mercury’s governance and HP’s IT operations products, such as the links between Mercury Business Availability Center and HP Peregrine Service Center.

And, overall, it strives to propel HP Software higher up the food chain, in an attempt to transform its market image from low-level network node management to business technology performance and compliance. It makes sense given the heritage of each group: while Mercury’s products targeted buyers in software organizations, HP’s appealed to system and network administrators in the data center.

According to Magdy Assem, HP worldwide director of product marketing, that’s exactly the reason why HP is ditching the well-known OpenView brand, a move that some might perceive as suicide by marketing.

We did research on whether to retain the [existing] brands, said Assem, who noted that prior to the Mercury acquisition, HP was already in the midst of broadening its OpenView offerings to span well beyond network management. Our market share in operations management is greater than the next two rivals combined, but the marketplace doesn’t give us credit for that.

With HP is using the Mercury acquisition to broaden the appeal of its infrastructure management offerings, the other parts of the announcement were intended to help target audiences figure out what products are for them, and how to use them for specific ITIL-inspired infrastructure or software management processes.

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Consequently, the 10 software centers are designed to logically group products by target users. At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much HP and Mercury product overlap between the centers. For instance, the project portfolio management, performance, quality and business availability centers map almost exclusively to Mercury’s tools. Meanwhile, operations, network management and service management map primarily to the OpenView side.

By contrast, SOA and change and management are likely to have more cross-cutting between the OpenView and Mercury portfolios.

Meanwhile, software lifecycles are intended to help customers figure out where the various software products fit in a particular IT management process. HP is starting off with three life cycles, including change and configuration management, performance and availability, and service. Down the road it will add more life cycles to the list.

The first three are obvious choices for HP because it plays to the strength of the combined product portfolio.

For instance, change and configuration management starts with using the Project Portfolio management offering that came from Mercury’s catalog to gauge the impact of changes such as deploying a new software application, modifying or upgrading an existing one, or provisioning new users to a system. After the change is deployed, the lifecycle continues with products from the OpenView portfolio that watch the environment and tie in service desk.

The performance and availability life cycle maps Mercury’s dashboards with some of the OpenView monitoring products. For instance, while the Mercury application performance management products are geared toward measuring user experience and simulating the execution of business processes across one or more locations, they can be correlated with the Overview IT operations products that provide lower level metrics.

The Service life cycle in turn is dominated by HP’s Peregrine asset and service desk products, which are more closely to operations data than Mercury’s own offerings that it acquired earlier this year. (Mercury’s offerings are driven by its Business Availability Center dashboards, while HP’s are driven more directly by IT operations data from its Peregrine and OpenView products.

By mid 2007, HP will likely announce more life cycles, with one of the first likely to be SOA governance that would heavily leverage the Systinet registry and HP SOA Manager offerings.

Obviously, with the ink still drying on the acquisition, HP’s announcements this week are mostly intended to show where the products would fit together. It’s simply too soon to provide added integration points atop those that already exist.

With the obvious exception of service desk, there is relatively little product overlap between the OpenView and Mercury offerings. So, in the long run, there are likely to be relatively few product consolidations.

But, if for nothing else, HP Software is serious about one thing: it wants to get the entire sales force to sell all of the products. Towards that end, it will fly in all the direct sales teams from the merged organizations to Boston in February to a meeting to get them cross-trained on the merged product line. At that time of year, they’re obviously not flying in to enjoy the weather.

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