Saturday, June 21, 2008

Will ebizQ post my comment on proper blog link etiquette?

I wonder if this comment (below) that I left on Joe McKendrick's SOA blog on ebizQ will show up. I'll let you all know.

[UPDATE: They did, they did publish my comment, and did the requested customary link to my blog ... all's well with the web world. No harm done.]

"Thanks for the blog on my storage and SOA observations, Joe. And thanks for the link back to my SearchSOA Q&A.

However, it is customary in blogs to link back to an individual's blog when you reference them by name, though I notice that ebizQ is often stingy on this point. I've had to ask them several times now to do baseline linking.

So for ebizQ's edification, here are the links to use when referencing my name and analysis for the benefit of their readers:



Friday, June 20, 2008

Interview: HP information management maven Rod Walker describes how BI empowers business leaders to innovate

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Listen on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

Business intelligence (BI) has been a top investment for corporations in the past several years, but the ability for BI to generate value and strategic direction guidance is merely in adolescence.

In health care, customer retention, energy and oil management, and for global risk reduction and compliance, BI is offering some of the best payoffs from IT and datacenter investments, says Rod Walker, vice president for information management at HP's Consulting and Integration group.

In this podcast discussion, Walker joins me to explore how BI will continue to be one of the most effective ways for business leaders to leverage IT over he next decade. Proper information management -- including all content in all forms, and not just structured data -- provides powerful market analytics and customer and user behavior inferences to enable real-time decisions about core services, product offerings and go to market campaigns.

Listen to this BI business opportunity overview podcast recorded at HP's Software Universe event June 18, moderated by your's truly from Las Vegas. The Walker interview comes as part of a series of discussions with HP executives this week from the HP Software Universe conference. See the full list here.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Listen on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Interview: Dan Rueckert of HP consulting digs into ITIL's role in accelerating SOA, IT service management

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Listen on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

More enterprise IT departments are working toward Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) principles and reference models for running their organizations. Yet ITIL can provide more benefits than initially meets the eye, including accelerating service oriented architecture (SOA) adoption, faster mean time to recovery in IT operations, and more effective change management.

Dan Rueckert, worldwide practice director for both the service management and security practices in HP's Consulting and Integration group, explains in an interview the direct and significant ancillary payoffs from ITIL adoption -- from establishing an IT service lifecycle to defining an overall IT service strategy.

Listen to this ITIL overview podcast recorded at HP's Software Universe event June 18, moderated by your's truly from Las Vegas. The Rueckert interview comes as part of a series of discussions with HP this week from the HP Software Universe conference. See the full list here.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Listen on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Interview: HP Software's David Gee on next generation data center trends and opportunities

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Listen on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

Enterprise CIOs face mounting challenges that are hard and getting even harder. HP says it has a lifeline for these IT departments and leaders over the next five years by helping them to dramatically cut the size of IT budgets relative to the enterprises' total revenue. This allows a shift on IT spending from operations to innovation via next generation data centers.

David Gee, vice president of marketing for HP Software, in a podcast interview from HP's Software Universe event this week, discusses the large global opportunity for enterprises and service providers to cut the relative size of IT budgets by investing in modern data centers that save energy, consolidate applications, leverage virtualization, and rely more on automation than manual upkeep processes.

Listen to this interview podcast, moderated by your's truly from Las Vegas, for more on HP's plans for next generation data centers that focus IT on the businesses' interests.

The Gee interview comes as part of a series of discussions with HP executives I'll be doing this week from the HP Software Universe conference. See the full list here.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Listen on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Interview: HP's BTO chief Ben Horowitz on how application lifecycles and data center operations can find common ground

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Listen on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

There may be no greater "silos" in all of IT than the gulf between application development and data center operations. For the sake of enhancing both, however, common ground is needed -- and HP is putting together a path of greater collaboration, visibility, management and automation to engender "application lifecycle optimization" to better bind design time with runtime.

Ben Horowitz, vice president and general manager of HP’s BTO software unit, and former CEO of HP's 2007 acquisition, Opsware, explains in a podcast interview from HP's Software Universe event this week how these hither to fore distinct orbits of IT can finally coalesce.

Through managed requirements collaboration and the use of "contracts" between the designers, testers, business leaders and IT operators, application lifecycle optimization has arrived, says Horowitz. Bringing more input and visibility into applications design, test and refinement, in a managed fashion, allows applications to better meet business goals, while also providing the data center operators better means to host those applications efficiently with high availability, he says.

Listen to this interview podcast, moderated by your's truly from Las Vegas, for more on HP's plans for and philosophy on how BTO and next generation data centers come together.

The Horowitz interview comes as part of a series of discussions with HP executives I'll be doing this week from the HP Software Universe conference. See the full list here.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Listen on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

HP burnishes vision on how products support both applications and data center lifecycles

HP opened the second day of its Software Universe event in Las Vegas with "product day," but the presentations seemed more about process -- the processes that usher application definitions and development into real world use.

I've heard of applications lifecycle, sure, but the last few days I've heard more about data center lifecycle. So how do they come together? HP's vision is about finally allowing the operations and development stages of a full application lifecycle to more than co-exist -- to actually reinforce and refine each other.

Ben Horowitz, vice president and general manager of HP's BTO software unit, pointed out on stage at the Sands Expo Center that HP is number one in the global market for applications testing and requirements management for software development. And, of course, HP is strong in operations and systems management.

The desired synergies between these strengths need to begin very early, he said, in the requirements gathering and triage phases. Horowitz, the former CEO of HP's 2007 Opsware acquisition, also explained the fuller roles that business, security, operations and QA people will play in the design time into runtime progression. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

I guess we need to call this the lifecycle of IT because HP is increasingly allowing applications requirements and efficient and automated data center requirements to actually relate to each other. You can't build the best data center without knowing what the applications need and how they will behave. And you can't create the best applications that will perform and be adaptable over time without knowing a lot about the data centers that will support them. Yet that's just what IT is and has been doing.

Next on stage, Jonathan Rende, vice president of products for SOA, application security and quality management at HP, painted the picture of how HP's products and acquisitions over the past few years come together to support the IT lifecycle.

Application owners, project managers, business analysts, QA team, performance team, and security teams -- all need to have input into applications requirements, design, test and deployment, said Rende. The HP products have been integrated and aligned to allow these teams to, in effect, do multi-level and simultaneous change management.

Remember the 3D chess on the original Star Trek? That's sort of what such multi-dimensional requirements input and visibility reminds me of. Social networking tools like wikis and micro blogging also come to mind.

Rende then described how change management and process standardization in the requirements, design, develop, test and refinement processes -- in waterfall or agile methods settings -- broadens applications lifecycle management into the business and operations domains.

By allowing lots of changes to occur from many parties and interests in the requirements phase, the IT lifecycle begins in the requirements, but extends into ongoing refinements for concerns about, for example, security and performance testing. Also, the business people can come in and request (and get!) changes and refinements later and perhaps (someday) right on through the IT lifecycle.

I really like this vision, it extends what we used to think of simultaneous design, code and test -- while building advanced test beds -- but extends the concurrency benefits broadly to include more teams, more impacts, more governance and risk reduction. Without the automation from the products, the complexity of managing all these inputs early and often would break down.

HP's products and processes are allowing more business inputs from more business interests into more of the IT lifecycle. The operations folks also get to take a look and offer input on best approaches on how the applications/services will behave in runtime, and throughout the real IT lifecycle.

Because there's also portfolio management benefits applied early in the process, the decision on when to launch an application boils down to a "contract" between those parities affected by the applications in production, said Rende. This allows an acceptance of risk and responsibility, and pushes teams to look on development and deployment as integrated, and not sequential.

Horowitz further explained how HP's announcements this week around advanced change management and a tighter alignment with such virtualization environments as VMWare will allow better and deeper feedback, refinement and efficiency across the IT lifecycle.

This "IT lifecycle" story is not yet complete, but it's come a long way quite quickly. HP is definitely raising the bar and defining the right vision for how IT in toto needs to mature and advance, to allow the enterprises to do more better for less.

IONA develops beefed up capabilities for financial services, STP automation

Financial institution face competitive pressure to automate processes and move toward straight-through processing (STP), while ensuring compliance with multiple messaging standards. IONA Technologies today released a set of enhancements to Artix Data Services designed to reduce risk exposure and operational costs.

The latest release from the Dublin, Ireland-based IONA includes a comprehensive implementation of SWIFTNet MT Standards Release 2008, a new free online validation service, and new offerings for over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives processing and payments STP. [Disclosure: IONA is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Based on Artix Data Services, IONA’s open and standards-based development tool for building model-driven data services, the IONA Artix Data Services Standards Libraries include support for over 100 financial messaging standards implementations across 22 standards bodies, offering customers rich, out-of-the-box support for financial messaging data services requirements.

Enhancements within the latest release include additional SWIFTNet MX standards for proxy voting and cash reporting, additions of payments standards for STEP2 and TARGET2, and the addition of Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation(DTCC) Fund/SERV and MDDL. These standards libraries enable institutions to rapidly implement and incrementally deploy reusable financial messaging data services.

The standards library includes support for over 240 MT message types, 2,000 validation rules and 28,000 test cases. The new free IONA Validation Service for SWIFT provides an easy testing solution to verify compliance with SWIFT SR2008 syntax and semantics, allowing customers to model, test and deploy compliant messages today well in advance of the November 15, 2008 SWIFT-mandated deadline.

For automating OTC derivatives processes, IONA provides financial messaging data services tools with extensive support for FpML, (DTCC) Deriv/SERV TIW, SwapsWire and SWIFTNet FpML. IONA’s Payments Modernization solution offering provides support for SEPA (Single European Payments Area), ISO20022, SWIFTNet FIN, EBA STEP2 XCT and ECB TARGET2 payments standards.

More information on IONA’s Artix Data Services Financial Standards Libraries is available at the IONA Web site.

VMWare and HP align products to bring greater management and insight to virtualized environments

Hewlett-Packard and VMWare today announced a deeper product collaboration going forward, offering to enterprises and service providers a single management and control approach to both physical and virtual software infrastructure stacks.

Through the partnership, announced at the HP Software Universe event in Las Vegas, HP's Business Service Management products -- including HP Business Availability Center, HP Operations Center and HP Network Management Center -- will help automate the management of the VMware virtualization platform.

Both the HP Discovery and Dependency Mapping products and HP Universal CMDB configuration data management suite will aid in discovery of virtualized environments for improved tracking and reporting of changes in VMWare virtualized envrionments.

And HP's Business Service Automation capabilities -- including HP Server Automation Center, HP Client Automation and HP Operations Orchestration -- will assist in the oversight and operational upkeep of services running in VMWare-supported virtual infrastructure instances.

HP and VMWare did not unveil any financial partnership news, but the two certainly seem chummy these days. HP clearly sees a huge market opportunity for helping to manage the complexity of virtualized platforms, given he need for enterprises to cut total costs through higher hardware utilization and the ability to dynamically and automatically match computer power supply with applications and storage demand.

The two companies did outline bundling and packaging of their products, in that new software bundles will combine VMware's Infrastructure 3 software suite with the HP Insight Control Environment for additional automation benefits. The goal, said the companies, is to provide a "comprehensive and seamless physical and virtual platform management" capability set.

“We’re expanding our relationship with VMware to jointly develop solutions that provide customers with comprehensive management of virtualized business applications running on the VMware platform,” said Ben Horowitz, vice president and general manager, of HP's Business Technology Optimization software, in a release.

I was just having breakfast yesterday with two systems architects from Seattle, who said they were exploring virtualization, including both VMWare and Xen hypervisors. The liked the potential benefits but were put off by the complexity of setting the stuff up and maintaining it. Their choices, they said, pretty much boiled down to consulting help or more automation in the software.

Yes, says HP, to both. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

CIOs need an efficiency mastery lifeline, say HP Software Universe keynote speakers

Savvy acquisitions and a perfect storm of trends and economics have given HP's software unit a prominence few would have predicted five years ago. But today HP Software has a big fat data center transformation opportunity staring it in the face.

This isn't your father's ink and PC business. As HP can leverage the open source and Microsoft ecologies, play second source to IBM in many markets (and bigger player in quite a few) and double its services reach with EDS, the enterprise software share of wallet landscape globally is facing disruption and opportunity.

The big question facing HP now is how they make that disruption work for them more than it works against them. Today, in keynote presentations at the opening of the HP Software Universe conference at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, part of the answer become clearer. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Tom Hogan, senior vice president of HP Software, described the challenges facing CIOs as very hard and getting harder, with the need to adjust to growing risks as well as new opportunities such as mashups, social networks and Web 2.0.

HP says it has a lifeline for the IT departments and leaders over the next five years. The goal is to cut the relative size of IT budgets to revenue for HP's customers. Some of those savings need to shift from operations to innovation, said Hogan. See news from the conferences.

The IT and business growth winners over the next five years will both master efficiency while increasing innovation, he said. HP is spending on R&D and mergers and acquisitions to allow its customers to progress.

The focus on information management is a next large initiative for HP, an area where IBM has been aggressive in acquisitions and market-focused solutions. I guess we can expect R&D and M&A there this year from HP. Maybe an open source database makes sense? Makes sense to me.

Quality, risk, speed, cost, insight, alignment -- these are the areas that HP will provide means for improvement for its customers, said Hogan. The R&D spending at HP is approaching $3 billion per year to help address these improvements.

HP Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd, in taking questions from the audience, said that IT processes must be automated, standardized and that software and services must come together to foster far greater efficiency.

Big trends to keep an eye on today include virtualization and cloud computing, sure, but the explosion of information needs to be managed. The ability to gain intelligence from all the data has never been more important, said Hurd and Hogan. They re-affirmed the role of information management for HP and its customers.

Data warehousing is too costly and needs innovation, said Hurd. It's time to integrate the islands of analytics, but there is too little enterprise-wide BI. Better real-time analytics from larger data sets is the answer, said Hurd. "The key is to get the processes and models right ... We'll take leadership in this market," said Hurd.

In again addressing the pending EDS merger, Hurd said alliances will be enhanced when the ecologies surrounding both companies seek to find ways to leverage each other.

Users sought to get better software support, and Hogan promised improvement via hiring and a better self-help support and portal capability set.

Hurd wants HP to be the best software company at management, including data, systems, processes, services, and integrations, he said. Uber management that reacts in real time and reaches out to all the assets and devices in the enterprise is the major HP software requirement, he said.

In effect, Hurd is modeling how HP operates and what he wants as a CEO to become the roadmap for what HP brings to its customers.

"We transformed 85 data centers to six ... and we found holes (in our go-to-market strategy)," said Hurd. "We understand the way the consumer uses data ... and it will directly effect how the enterprise has to deal with its infrastructure. We don't think of the consumer market and enterprise market as separate, we see it as a continuum," said Hurd.

HP has its sights set on swift yet cost-reduction-intense data center transformation projects

Here at the opening keynotes addresses for the HP Technology Forum event at the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas, it's a bigger crowd than I was expecting. Lots of old Unix shops still supporting the legacy and mission critical apps and platforms but on increasingly commoditized hardware ... that increasingly needs better management.

Toss in a surge of interest in virtualization, ongoing ramp-ups to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and a budding fascination in cloud computing methods, and we're looking at the means to accommodate (at lower TCO) all the old and new of IT systems, platforms, framework, applications and delivery services. That takes data center transformation, and not just adding more servers. We also need is the means to manage the complexity, fragility, scale and cost.

HP seems to see this clearly. The goal of data center transformation is clear, but how to get there is another matter.

Opening up the presentations today, Randy Mott, Executive Vice President and CIO, said there are more IT professionals worldwide than ever, and it still growing fast. Unfortunately, the lion's share of these folks are supporting the older systems, and not on innovation.

IT spend as a percent of revenue is too high, he said. And there are so many worthwhile IT objectives that need to be done at the same time. "There's no easy button here," said Mott. You can do anything, but you can't to everything, he told the IT executives and practitioners in the audience. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

HP has gone through an internal IT transformation since 2005, and learned a few lessons, he said. The goal was to cut the percentage of corporate revenue devoted to IT from 4 percent to 2 percent while still delivering better performance. That takes upfront investment but the can be recovered quickly, he said.

To do so you need to cuts costs and change the game, said Mott. HP built 6 massive new modern data centers over three years that indeed changed the game for HP, with 60 percent less electricity use. And those data center replace 85 previous facilities to serve 172,000 employees.

To "change the game" also requires better portfolio management, singular data views and marts, and change management.

The effective transition also requires "transformational" change over "incremental" change, said Mott. These projects need to happen in less then three years and have a significant cost reduction payback.

Next on stage was Ann Livermore, Executive Vice President, HP Technology Solutions Group, saying that CEOs and CIOs are not confident that current data centers will support their businesses past 2010. This is due to information explosion, more demands placed on IT, and reliance on aging infrastructure, she said.

HP now has the number one revenue share of servers spend worldwide, recently beating IBM in that role, said Livermore. One out of every three servers delivered around the world is an HP server, she said.

HP is the sixth largest software company in the world, she added, and the intent to buy EDS will push HP services into a much larger role and set of capabilities.

Transforming the data center builds on HP's core solutions of servers/storage, services, and software, she said. In the future all the IT assets will operate as a single virtual infrastructure, the next next generation data center, in effect, she said.

Livermore also highlighted two announcements this week, the HP Integrity NonStop NB50000c BladeSystem and the BTO Software for Change Management Automation news.

What about HP UX, asked some conference goes? Livermore said HP is committed to HP Unix and Integrity architecture. "We intend to play and play aggressively" on HP UX, she said.

Won't virtualization cut into hardware sales? asked another. Disruption is good for HP, said Livermore, because the management of a combined virtualized environment is the growth of the future, even as blades become the hardware staple.

How to compete against IBM? The EDS merger will allow HP to gain the services staff expertise, scale and outsourcing capabilities to meet the building demand for solutions.

Why EDS? Mark Hurd, HP Chairman and CEO, came on stage to answer. EDS will almost double the services market coverage HP can enjoy, as well as bring more services and automate the EDS services portfolio with HP software, said Hurd. He said he's excited about aligning the EDS and HP competencies.

He's still not sure when the EDS deal closes, however, said Hurd.

Next up, Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO, came on stage to say how the Intel Itanium archtiecture momentum is building over Spac and PowerPC. Itanium is the fastest growing server chip platform globablly, says IDC, said Otellini.

Intel and HP also work together on total costs of servers, of which maintenance is the higher cost than acquisition cost by far. Intel and HP plan to bring even more powerful blades to market, with high-density, low-power and low-cost computing, said Otellini.

Hurd said the partnership between HP and Intel has never been deeper and wider. He specifically endorsed the HP commitment to Itanium family of processors.

HP marries change management and problem isolation functions into an automated data center efficiency partnership

Borrowing heavily from its Opsware, Mercury and Bristol acquisitions, HP on Tuesday at the Software Universe conference announced products and services designed to automate and coordinate two thorny aspects of large-scale IT operations: change lifecycle management, and problem isolation and resolution.

While once mundane and esoteric aspects of running monolithic data centers, today's scale, complexity and far-flung fragmentation from services orientation have elevated managing change across webs of servers and components to a top priority. What we're really getting at here is making IT perform like a mature, refined and managed business function, not a near-sighted firefighting brigade.

In many cases, operators and IT executives are forbidding that requested changes can be made to services and applications for fear that the changes will stir up hard-to-locate and tough-to-remedy glitches. Such unintended consequences can be scattered across thousands of distributed servers and IT network devices. It's hard to enjoy the fruits of service oriented architecture (SOA) investments for business agility when the IT infrastructure is too brittle to accept applications-level change readily.

So in anticipation of dampening further hamstrung agility advances due to "brittle environments" -- particularly as SOA, virtualization and cloud computing come into play -- HP's Business Technology Optimization (BTO) and research teams have assembled what amounts to IT change confidence enhancement tools. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

A recent study by The Economist research unit showed that some 50 percent of service outages in data centers was due to a change being made to a service. Then these problems were hard to isolate given that no one knew how the change impacted the distributed systems. From there, some 68 percent of companies responding said the applications issues were being tackled manually.

Obviously HP sees a huge opportunity here for making modern data centers behave more like assets and less like liabilities, at least in the eyes of business managers as they seek process and strategic initiatives changes.

So not only does the confidence to change services and processes freely amid SOA-supported processes need a boost, the ability to manage change requires automated lifecycle depth and breadth. Uncoordinated and manual attempts to manage change amid widespread complexity can actually make the problems and their resolution harder. Next generation data centers require an end-to-end services deployment and change management capability that maps to service workflow orchestration, services management and datacenter automation activities.

So the HP BTO and adaptive infrastructure engineers have designed HP Release Control 4.0, which identifies "change collisions" and creates a managed services approach to change. The solution not only manages technology, it manages the people managing the IT via providing advance visibility into change impacts and organizing teams so changes are coordinated.

The value does not end at the proactive stage of change management, but provides the tools to identify change-related issues over the lifetime of the services, said Sharmila Shahani, chief marketing officer of HP Software. "This provides a proactive, real-time and automated way to manage the change lifecycle," said Shahani, in an interview.

Additionally, HP has announced Business Availability Center (BAC) 7.5 for improved problem management in complex datacenter environments. Using new technology from HP Labs, the product helps isolate runtime problems before disruptions by allowing fast and visual "drilling down" into operations data regardless of scale and complexity.

Other new product releases here at Software Universe this week include: HP Client Automation Center 7.2, HP Storage Essentials 6.0, and HP Service Automation Reporter 7.0.

What's interesting to me is that HP is using he change management-focused Release Control functions in association with the BAC problem resolution functions, getting into a data center dance of efficiency. As the change piece and the problem identification piece are used in unison, a "closed loop" approach to datacenter performance amid constant change becomes possible, said Shahani.

I did a podcast interview just yesterday at the HP Technology Forum event in Las Vegas in these issues with Duncan Campbell, HP's Adaptive Infrastructure program leader. Have a listen. More podcasts from Software Universe are here.

Further burnishing the datacenter efficiency shine, HP has also updated its configuration management database (CMDB) system to embrace federation and ITIL v3 principles. Universal Configuration Management (CMS) 7.5 allows for many versions of configuration data from many sources to be used in unison for improved visibility and access for what's going on in as many of the systems as possible in nar real-time.

HP's latest CMDB does not force all the config data into a common CMDB, but rather uses connectors to other CMDBs for true federation on a meta data level, said Shahani, to provide a hub and consolidated view of all components within a large distributed system. Universal CMS 7.5 arrives this month.

HP is targeting the aggregated view of all systems elements value from the new CMDB at the burgeoning use of virtualization across datacenters. Virtualization promises utilization efficiencies and automated provisioning of services and applications support, but it also adds complexity as support infrastructure and application instances can pop in and out of use (existence?).

What I especially like about these new products is that they can increasingly be used in association with SOA governance and SLAs to begin to get to a true services lifecycle approach value and benefit. Used in association with HP SOA Center (including the Systinet repository), architects can integrate design and governance demands with change management, problem management and federated systems config data for a whole significantly larger than the sum of the parts.

It's just these kinds of complete services management capabilities, increasingly automated, that will make SOA pay off big dividends and paves the way for use of private cloud compute environs for enterprises and service providers alike.

Interview: HP's Duncan Campbell on energy efficiency and automation in next generation data centers

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

Enterprises are now energized to save energy, and HP's Adaptive Infrastructure program leader, Duncan Campbell, believes the path to automation and efficiency -- plus the need for modernization and consolidation -- present a '"perfect storm" for next generation data center architecture adoption.

I had a chance to interview Campbell yesterday at the Technology Forum event in Las Vegas after HP's NonStop Blade servers announcement. I asked him how the simultaneous factors of hardware improvements, virtualization, improved change management, and IT service management -- not to mention SOA and cloud computing -- can come together without overwhelming IT leaders and operators.

Listen to the podcast for more on HP's plans and philosophy on what the next generation data center and adaptive infrastructure approaches will means for lowering costs while also improving scale and response.

Incidentally, this is the first in a series of HP executive interviews as podcasts I'll be doing this week from the HP Software Universe conference. See the full list here.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Disparate HP user communities unite under Connect banner at HP Technology Forum event

HP is an amalgamation of companies, products and technologies, and its user groups have had a similar legacy. Until today, that is.

Three major HP-focused user groups, from as long ago as Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) and Tandem Systems days, have banded together to ride the power of social networking to provide a unified and more powerful voice to 50,000 global users managing and maintaining old and new HP products and systems.

The new group, called Connect, will allow its users to share knowledge and contacts while proving a strong customer advocacy voice to HP, said Nina Buik, president of the new non-profit Connect and a prolific blogger. She's also senior vice president at MindIQ, an Atlanta-based technology training company.

By officially banding together today, the former Encompass (once DECUS), HP-Interex EMEA and ITUG communities can gain more power and influence together while still remaining independent of HP.

"There's just more power in numbers, you can more done," said Buik.

Connect made a splash at the HP Technology Forum event, which began Monday in Las Vegas. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.] Users, members and observers toasted the advent of the group at a food and libations fest at the Mandalay Bay resort.

The Connect community reflects users of all of HP's portfolio, which covers a lot of ground from DEC's PDP apps still running in emulation in surprising numbers to the VMS and OpenVMS of old to the latest NonStop, BTO and SOA Center product suites. The unified community is at the outset strongest in the U.S. and EMEA, but will seek more presence in Asia/Pacific and Japan later this year, said Buik.

Connect will hold its next major user event Nov. 10-12 in Manheim, Germany.

Hey, while we're at it integrating communities -- just as we're integrating products and technologies -- why not go for some user and communities federation as well? The HP Software community Vivit, for example, or perhaps some open source communities would make sense to work in tandem with Connect. The large and growing VMWare community also has obvious synergies with Connect.

Furthermore, Connect is leveraging the social media and networks trend by creating what amounts to a LinkedIn or Facebook for HP users on its site at . Users can create a profile that describes their HP product sets, which then heightens their ability to reach out to other similar users and create their social user groups and relationships. There's blogs and wikis, too. If it works for social activities, it works for business activities.

HP is hoping to tap the Connect community for its own market research, a massive feedback loop perpetual focus group on the wants and demands of HP users. The power of the pen, folks -- it's even ore powerful when joined with social networks functions and viral community reach.

Monday, June 16, 2008

'Instant replay' helps software developers fast-forward to application problem areas

Fixing software bugs is often easier than finding them. Stepping up to the plate to address this problem is Replay Solutions, which today announced general availability of ReplayDIRECTOR for Java EE, a TiVo-like product that allows instant replays of applications and servers at any stage of the application lifecycle.

ReplayDIRECTOR, which was released in beta by the Redwood City, Calif. company in March, makes deep recordings of applications and servers -- notably non-deterministic inputs and events that affect the application. Engineers can then fast forward directly to the root cause of the problem.

The idea behind the technology is that it allows companies to drill down into source code quickly, eliminating unnecessary IT costs and time spent searching for issues that can't be replicated or easily detected. The software is designed to cut through the complexity that IT departments face with shorter release cycles, multi-tier applications, and dispersed development teams.

According to Replay Solutions, every line of code that an application executes while ReplayDIRECTOR is recording will be re-executed in precisely the same sequence during playback. No source code changes are required and recordings can be played anywhere, without requiring the original environment, inputs, databases, or other servers, all of which are virtualized during replay.

As virtualization becomes more common, these replay approaches may be necessary as instances of apps and runtimes may come and go based on automated demand response provisioning. These left-over breadcrumbs of what once happened in a virtualization container will be quite valuable to then prevent recurrences.

I'm sure innovative developers and testers will come up with other interesting uses, especially as apps and services become supported in more places, inside and outside of enterprises. Got compliance?

Designed to deploy in any environment and have a minimal effect on the environment, ReplayDIRECTOR allows applications to run at near full speed while recording and faster than full speed during re-execution. It also has minimal performance impact, and can run in a production environments as an "always on" solution.

ReplayDIRECTOR for Java EE is available now. You can find more information at the company's Web site.