HP Angles for End-to-End Lock on Virtualization

With the recession and scarce resources driving enterprises into virtualization, Hewlett-Packard (HP) is looking to capitalize on the trend with a slew of announcements around virtual and physical IT management from the desktop to the datacenter.

Today, HP (NYSE: HPQ) and VMware (NASDAQ: VMW) jointly unveiled plans to develop management solutions for both physical and virtual datacenters.

HP also today announced that it will integrate version 10.0 of its Quality Center Web-based test management application, formerly HP TestDirector for HP Quality Center, with Surgient’s Virtual Automation Platform, which automates the testing and development software laboratory process.

And, on Monday, HP introduced its Virtual Client Essentials software portfolio that includes multimedia, brokering and streaming solutions for desktop virtualization.

The efforts aim to put HP in a very strong position for the future. Research firm IDC lists virtualization as one of the key growth areas for 2009.

“With its announcement with VMware, HP is trying to provide end-to-end management tools in an integrated suite,” Andi Mann, research director at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), told InternetNews.com.

“This is really important stuff, and CA and BMC recently did very strong announcements around all these things in the virtual and physical environment.”

The tie-in with VMware will pit HP against both CA (NYSE: CA) and BMC Software (NYSE: BMC), as well as against IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Mann said.

HP will also be fighting niche vendors such as Opalis, Embotics, Quest Software’s (NASDAQ: QSFT) Vizioncore, which offers virtualization management technologies, and PlateSpin, now part of Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL).

Virtual testing

Melinda Wilken, VMware’s senior director of technology, told InternetNews.com that the first step in working with HP will be integrating VMware’s vCenter Lab Manager laboratory automation solution with HP’s Business Technology Optimization (BTO) software. BTO enables enterprises to measure IT activities against business objectives — making it more cost-effective.

HP Quality Center is part of BTO, and integration with VMware will let its customers conduct testing in virtual lab configurations from within Quality Center, Wilken said.

VMware may then integrate with BTO’s HP OpsWare module, which offers automation, to automate the provisioning of physical and virtual resources in the lab environment, according to Wilken.

Products from this integration will be appearing some time next year, she added.

In addition, VMware is licensing HP’s VDM Dependency and Discovery Mapping technology, which it will put into its own configuration management product, Wilken said. The combined product is scheduled to hit the market in the second half of 2009, she said.

“That will let us go out and discover the configurations you have in your datacenter, the dependencies they have on other components in the datacenter, and feed that information back into vCenter Management Server,” Wilken said.

This capability ties into VMware’s vision of the datacenter of the future, where servers will exist on-premises as well as in the cloud. Such datacenters will be managed by the virtualization giant’s Virtual Datacenter Operating System (VDC-OS), a combination of services for the infrastructure, applications and the cloud, unveiled at VMworld 2008, its annual user conference, in September.

But HP isn’t VMware’s only partner in the area — it’s also teamed up with BMC and CA for end-to-end virtual and physical management capabilities. Wilken declined to say whether the company would also work on a similar an end-to-end solution with IBM, which is already a VMware partner.

Despite all the effort, EMA’s Mann said that managing virtual and physical deployments together may not be as hot a market as believed.

“My research shows that 95 percent of all enterprises are deploying virtualization in some fashion, but their deployment rate internally is as low as five percent, and that trend will continue through 2010 at least,” he said. “Physical deployments will remain dominant in the datacenter.”

Page 2: Cutting costs with virtual labs and virtual desktops

According to Mann, the slowness in virtualization deployment may be partly because it is difficult to deploy virtualization for server rebalancing, backup and disaster recovery, and for other complex applications. It’s also partly because there is a lack of appropriate management tools, he said.

Some companies, like Tripwire and Embotics, already offer such tools, but more are needed, Mann said.

Virtual labs and desktops help cut costs

The integration of HP Quality Center 10.0 with Surgient’s platform will let software developers and quality assurance staff create, manage and tear down virtual lab environments. This will be a real winner for the enterprise because it has a quick payback, helps to slash costs and will drive top line
revenue for users, Mann said.

“Normally, you spend hours building a test system, run your tests, then when you find bugs and do [quality assurance,] you have to destroy the system and rebuild it to run tests after the first set of bugs has been fixed,” Mann said. “Lab management software lets you automate that process, and you get new application developments and application upgrades done much faster and cheaper and get products to market earlier.”

HP’s announcement on Monday of its Virtual Essentials also aims to cash in on client virtualization environments, such as server-based computing, the HP Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), HP Blade PCs or HP Blade Workstations, and streaming clients.

As with other areas of virtualization, virtual desktops are seen as a way that enterprises can save significant amounts of money.

“With virtual desktops, the amount of money large organizations spend on professionals to install software or do upgrades and go to the client site to do management and maintenance all goes away,” he said.

EMA’s Mann said HP’s extension of virtualization to the desktop is not only a logical move for the company, but will also help it push into a very quickly growing market.

“HP is very strong in the desktop, desktop management and thin clients, has very strong existing markets for these and … has the capability for server-based computing and capabilities to manage provisioning and configuration to the desktop,” he said. “So, the idea of adding virtual delivery of the desktop is very logical for them and they have every opportunity to do it and do it well.”

HP’s competition here will be Citrix Systems (NASDAQ: CTXS), with its XenApp and Xen Desktop, Quest, Microsoft and VMware, which offers VDI and recently enhanced it by launching VMware View 3, which enables enterprises to centralize and host their desktops in the datacenter.

Still, by aiming to capture some of the demand for virtualized desktops, HP may still find itself with a huge hit on its hands, Mann said. “The general growth rate is 20 percent a year for virtualization, but desktop and application virtualization is growing upwards of 25 to 26 percent,” he said.

“They are starting from a very low baseline, so the rate is deceptive,” he added. “But it’s proof of a very strong market opportunity.”

Update clarifies HP’s competitors to include Quest.

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