HP to Compete with IBM, Microsoft in Developer Space

Hewlett-Packard Company has given the new head of its Software Solutions Organization, Russ Daniels, “a broad architecture on which to structure a developer community,” a company spokesperson tells Web Services Report.

Daniels, who was promoted to CTO of HP’s software group in March, has the unenviable task of pushing HP past the likes of IBM and Microsoft in the developer community – a space in which the Palo Alto-based computing giant had no substantial presence prior to the launch of its developer program last month.

HP’s desire to attract developers is an extension of the software strategy it announced in February. Designed to work in conjunction with its “always-on” storage hardware and server initiative, HP’s software activities focus on the OpenView system management platform and netaction middleware line. The developer program will provide tools, community content and developer support for both OpenView and netaction.

“What was pointed out to us is that we lacked a developer strategy to complement our HP OpenView and netaction software infrastructure,” says Mike Rank, marketing manager for HP’s Software Solutions Organization. With the addition of such a strategy, Rank believes HP’s OpenView and netaction solutions will now become more popular in the ISV, xSP and enterprise markets.

HP has a three-year plan for its developer program, which is designed to focus on Web services, mobility solutions and rich media. In the first year, it will try to gain the support of the independent software vendor and service provider communities. Enterprise IT will be the target in year two, with the program shifting its attention to line-of-business managers in its third year of existence.

Darcy Fowkes, a research director with IT consultancy Aberdeen Group, feels HP will have difficulty achieving its goals. “Because HP is so entrenched in the enterprise IT world, I think the most challenging aspect of [the three-year plan] is in the first year – gaining the attention of the ISVs,” says Fowkes.

However, Rank feels HP is in a unique position to provide developers end-to-end solutions that extend from the “device to the data center.” Rank says HP has the capability, with netaction, to support the complex integrations developers demand, as well as provide management support through OpenView. Ultimately, HP’s goal is to build what it calls an integrated services environment, which focuses primarily on the construction of Web services.

Fowkes, though, doesn’t see how HP is going to compete with IBM and Microsoft for mindshare among developers. “I think they’re underestimating how hard it is to get a leadership position,” says Fowkes. For one, she says, IBM’s WebSphere line is more established in the middleware market than HP’s Netaction. And IBM’s Tivoli business unit provides systems management software comparable to HP OpenView.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is a bit new to the middleware and systems management spaces. But, with its BizTalk and Microsoft Operations Manager solutions, Redmond also is capable of providing the sort of end-to-end support that HP thinks makes it unique.

Still, HP feels it can become a player in the developer community, and is making efforts to attract developers by: launching a new partner program called the Developer Support Partner Program; hosting a developer conference, Invent 2002, in May of next year; giving a series of Web-based seminars for developers beginning in late November; and revamping its university program to donate more software and consulting services to schools.

According to Rank, HP will also begin to more actively push its Itanium processing technology as a high-performance developer platform.

“I don’t see anything wrong with the program itself,” says Fowkes. “HP has good technology, but good technology these days doesn’t always make you famous.”

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to ENTmag.com. He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.