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Two years ago, analysts were applauding Hewlett-Packard for achieving a dominant position in open systems network management and, at the same time, writing it off as a serious contender in the wider field of systems management. Given that network management was growing fast, it was a position which HP found bearable. This year, things are changing. The big systems management vendors are becoming increasingly successful in positioning network management as a subset of systems management. Tivoli, for example, has tightly integrated IBM’s NetView, a product which OpenView largely defeated in the open market, into its framework. And CA has brought network management into its Unicenter TNG product: Over time, CA will enhance the functionality of TNG and will start choking off pure network management products like HP’s OpenView and Sun Microsystems’ SunNet Manager, warns Brandan Musler of consultancy Illuminata. Perhaps for this reason, HP appears to have decided that being a network management software supplier is not enough. It wants to leverage its leadership in Unix and NT network management to fight for a leading position as an integrated, systems management supplier. OpenView will be the focal point of its attack – a strategy which is not surprising, given its 44% market share, its highly regarded technology, and the fact that it accounts for up to $500m in product and services revenues.

Analysts unconvinced

Around OpenView, HP is now trying to build an array of interoperating products. In the past, HP has faced criticism that its systems management products were not strong or integrated enough, and lacked the support of its senior management. This year, it has set out to correct this. We want to build and offer a complete network framework, said Thomas Nebe, European product manager for OpenView. The first steps came in the Spring with the launch of its IT service management initiative. This brought together OpenView, its IT Operations and IT Administration products, and services such as outsourcing and consulting, under one technology and marketing effort. In addition, HP has been bolstering the functional capabilities of OpenView. In March, it bought the Network Business Unit of PC utilities software supplier Symantec. The $30m acquisition gives it improved LAN management technology and access to new distribution channels. HP has also acquired open system help desk and IT administration specialist Prolin for a reported $20m. Separately, HP signed a deal with Microsoft to supply its products alongside Microsoft’s NT Back Office systems management products. And in July, HP introduced its OpenView Ready program, which involves distributing a subset of OpenView pre-installed on suppliers’ hardware. With all these initiatives, HP ought to be vying for the leadership in systems management. But analysts are largely unconvinced – and the recent decision of HP’s Computer Systems Organization to resell CA’s Unicenter alongside OpenView has not helped.

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