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Issue Date: November 2007

HP unveils automated operations

November 2007
Tony Baer

Weaving together its recent Opsware acquisition with the Mercury and OpenView stack, Hewlett-Packard's Software Group is taking the wraps off what it calls 'Automated Operations 1.0'.

The operable notion is correlating IT operations data from Network Node Manager 8i (part of the old OpenView Stack); change management and IT process workflow automation from Opsware; the Business Availability dashboard and related offerings from Mercury; and the Peregrine Service Desk. And tying this all together is HP's Universal CMDB, and web service integration enabling the different pieces to interoperate.
It starts with the Universal CMDB, which is more of a federated metadata repository and data warehouse for managing service definitions, which includes data that may reside in different data sources.
Having defined a particular service, such as a customer relationship management operation, you could use the Opsware IT Process Automation to trigger the workflow that configures software and deploys it to back end infrastructure. And Opsware's various automation pieces then detect change in configurations, while the IT Service Management pieces monitor compliance with service level agreements (SLAs) and automatically generate trouble tickets when SLAs are not met.
According to Eric Vishria, vice president of products for HP Software, the key was extending the data model in the CMDB to provide a more complete representation of what comprises an IT service. "CMDB was started as a discovery, but it needed to expand the data model so it had the correct, contextual information to call these solutions."
HP took a layered approach that in essence, dissected a multitiered app, using the application discovery piece that originally came through Mercury to identify which pieces of infrastructure and which operations are mapped to a specific application or service.
Network Node Manager can explode that down to the actual device elements that are involved. And then, to provide the big picture, service levels are defined in business terms.
Once you have gotten a handle on what the service is, there is the question of what it takes to deliver the service, which is where processes based on the ITIL framework come in. The new version of HP IT Service Management (ITSM), which is rooted from the he old Peregrine products, has adapted ITIL process definitions to provide a template on which customers can build their processes.
The new version supports ITIL v3, which supports concepts such as a lifecycle for managing an IT service, plus provisions for publishing service catalogues. Entitlements to services could be defined by name or role within ITSM, extrapolated from existing directories, or sourced from HR systems. And scorecards, which Mercury's old Business Availability Center provided, can display current performance against best practice.
Another enhancement is that with this release, HP has finally converged the service desk products from the old OpenView and Peregrine catalogues. The OpenView offering did not scale to the degree as Peregrine's, which supported larger organisations. The new converged offering lets you layer on the functionality so you do not have to implement the entire suite or nothing at all.
By assigning a new umbrella Automated Operations branding and a version 1.0 number, HP is signifying that it is finally putting the pieces together to correlate IT operations with higher level business services, with web services integration enabling the pieces to dynamically activate the type of automated process flows that systems management providers have long promised but never delivered.


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