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HP moves to automate storage management

HP's Automated Operations 1.0 suite takes the first step in combining storage resources acquired from AppIQ and Opsware, while integrating storage with other IT management services.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) took the first step toward automating its storage resource management (SRM) and combining it with its overall data center management framework today as part of a broad IT services platform initiative.

HP launched HP Automated Operations 1.0, a suite of products for automating the management of servers, networks, applications, storage and clients. Automated Operations 1.0 is primarily a rebranding of products HP acquired from Opsware Inc., Mercury Interactive Corp. and Peregrine Systems Inc., along with HP OpenView, and is divided into three segments: Business Service Automation, Business Service Management and IT Service Management.

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Storage fits into the Business Service Automation group, which is mainly the Opsware data center automation suite combined with Storage Essentials and the Radia configuration management software. HP closed its $1.6 billion acquisition of Opsware in September.

HP is bundling its Storage Essentials SRM with Opsware's Application Storage Automation System (ASAS). For now, this change is mainly cosmetic – the ASAS GUI will launch Storage Essentials. But HP plans to fully integrate the products by the end of next year into an application called HP Storage Automation.

The Storage Essentials team, which came to HP when it acquired SRM startup AppIQ Inc. in 2005, will work to integrate intellectual property that Opsware acquired when it bought another SRM startup, CreekPath Systems Inc., in mid-2006.

Unlike Storage Essentials, ASAS can connect to servers, networks, applications and clients to link SRM to other IT areas. But the integration will be a long process, said Evelyn Hubbert, senior analyst for infrastructure and operations at Forrester Research.

"They have to do a lot of work getting it to look at SAN and NAS," she said. "Storage Essentials does all that, but integrating it will take some work to reconcile with the Opsware software. Over the next 12 months, we'll see what they have. It's a very high-level integration at this point."

Hubbert thinks HP's automation strategy gets it off to a good start in what she sees as "the race for all these [networking] vendors to reduce the amount of time IT spends on operations. That time is going through the roof."

She said a recent Forrester survey found that 80% of IT work involves maintaining and operating the environment and only 20% on innovation.

"We think it's time to rethink IT operations," said HP's Helen Tang, director of product marketing. "We feel nobody in the market is doing something like our automated operations."

Others are certainly on the same trail. EMC Corp. is in the early stages of integrating and automating network management capabilities it picked up from its acquisitions of Smarts and nLayers with its SRM software. Cisco Systems Inc., IBM, Symantec Corp. and CA Inc. all have a wide range of network and storage management products. BMC Software Inc. last month partnered with startup Onaro Inc. to integrate storage change management capabilities into its IT services management portfolio.

"HP sees the connection with storage and the network," Hubbert said. "They realize, if I have applications, I need storage devices because I have data. I think their competitors are also realizing the delineation between components, such as storage and network applications are all starting to happen. The key is putting the services on top of the components, so instead of managing the network and applications, we're managing and provisioning a service."

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