HP takes aim at Websphere and iPlanet

A new bundled software package should ship this quarter to give HP an inroad into a market hotly contested by Sun and IBM.

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By  Colin Browne Published  January 15, 2001

Hewlett-Packard will take on Sun Microsystems and IBM this quarter when it rolls out what sources in the US are calling a ‘comprehensive software package’ designed to compete with products from iPlanet and IBM's WebSphere division.

The offering, to be called NetAction, will include HP's OpenView network-management software; Praesidium, a VPN product; Changeengine, which uses business-analytics to enhance ERP applications; SMART Internet Usage, which measures and reports on Internet application usage; and other pieces.

An HP spokeswoman said company policy was not to comment on unannounced products.

Industry watchers suggest that NetAction is an attempt to take advantage of HP's $470 million acquisition of Bluestone, the Web application server vendor HP purchased in October, and to build on the success of HP's OpenView.

The Bluestone deal gave HP a software platform compliant with Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), the latest Sun and Java Community Process specification for building and deploying enterprise-scale Java apps, and an entry point into the white-hot wireless and XML-based application development arena.

Leading competitors in this space include both IBM and iPlanet (the alliance between Sun Microsystems and Netscape), as well as SilverStream Software, BEA Systems, Allaire and Art Technology Group.

"Aside from OpenView, which [HP] did build [as] a successful business, it has never had an industry-leading software business," says John Rymer, founder and president of Upstream Consulting, a US-based IT business consulting firm. "The amount of effort that it takes for a company like HP, who's relying on hardware and services, to build a software business is immense."

For that reason, Rymer says, Bluestone "was a great acquisition [for HP]."

"One challenge I see with bundling [different software applications together] is how you deliver the product [package]," says Barton Warner, chief architect for infrastructure and systems at e-integrator, Lante.

While Warner says he has no first-hand experience with NetAction, he also says that OpenView is perhaps its most essential component.

"A lot of products integrate nicely with OpenView," Warner says. But he wondered whether HP will include a directory server to help customers manage the disparate parts of NetAction.

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