Monday, September 13, 2010

HP gets more than security benefits from ArcSight acquisition, it gets closer to comprehensive BI for IT

The build, buy or partner equation has favored "buy" once again as HP moves aggressively to dominate IT operations management and governance software and services.

HP on Monday announced the intention to buy 10-year-old ArcSight for $1.5 billion, rapidly filling out its software products portfolio again under Bill Veghte, Executive Vice President of the HP Software & Solutions group. HP has been on a tear after recently acquiring Fortify and 3Par. I guess we should expect even more buying by HP as the economy and stock market makes these companies attractive before their value increases. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

ArcSight -- with a $200 million revenue run rate and 35 percent annual top line growth -- might be best known for providing the means to snuff out cyber crime and user access and data management risks. And the systems log capture and management portfolio at ArcSight is also adept at helping with regulatory oversight requirements and compliance issues. To solve these problems, the company sells to the largest enterprises, including the US government and military, and financial, telco and retail giants.

But for me the real value for HP is in gaining a comprehensive platform and portfolio via ArcSight for total systems log management. Being able to manage and exploit the reams of ongoing log data across all data center devices offers huge benefits, even the ability to correlate business events and IT events for what I call BI for IT.

We're right on the cusp of reliable and penetrating levels predictive types of IT analysis, and HP needs to in the vanguard on this. VMware just last month bought privately held Integrien for the same reason. The market is looking for de facto standard governance systems of record and HP's other governance products plus ArcSight makes that a market opportunity only one for HP to lose.

This predictive approach to IT failures -- of identifying and ameliorating system snafus before they impact applications and data performance -- stands as the progeny of better IT operations continuity. The structured and unstructured systems data and analysis from ArcSight will help HP develop a constant feedback loop between build, manage and monitoring processes, to help ensure that enterprises remain secure and reliable in operations, says HP.

Consider too that managing security and dependability at the edge takes on a whole new meaning as enterprises dive more deeply into smartphones, mobile apps, netbooks, thin clients and desktop virtualization, and the need to not just manage each of them -- but all of them in an orchestra of coordinated data and applications access, provisioning and compliance.

Virtualization drives need for governance

Oh, and then there's the virtualization revolution that's only partly played out in enterprise IT and growing fast. And so how to manage and govern fleeting virtual instances of servers, networking equipment and storage? The logs. The logs data. It's a sure way to gain a complete view of IT operations, even as that picture is rapidly changing moment by moment.

Another complement to the ArcSight-HP match-up: All that log data needs to be crunched and reported, a function of BI-adept hardware and optimized systems, which, of course, HP has in spades.

So all this deep and wide governance capability from ArcSight is a strong complement to HP's Business Service Automation and Cloud Service Automation solutions, among several others. Given that HP already resells ArcSight's appliances (and soon, we're told all-software products, too), we should expect the combined solutions to be moving down-market to the SMBs pretty quickly. This global and massive market has also been a recent priority for HP across other products and services.

Don't just view the ArcSight purchase today through the lens of cyber security and compliance solutions. This is a synergistic acquisition for HP on many levels. The common denominator is comprehensive governance, and the next goal for the combined HP and ArcSight products and services is predictive BI for IT ... and correlating that all to the real-time business events and processes. That's the total business insight capability that companies so desperately need -- and only IT can provide -- to effectively manage complexity and risk.

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