InfoWorld NewsMakers: Hewlett-Packard's Tom Hogan

Mercury and OpenView make HP's "secret sauce"

In the Jane Austen novel that has become Mercury Interactive’s financial story in the past 12 months, it was HP playing the role of Mr. Knightley last month, riding to the rescue with an offer to buy Mercury for $4.5 billion and, thus, save the company from itself.

Of course, the deal has considerable advantages for HP, too. Mercury’s application management wares, combined with HP’s OpenView product, will create an end-to-end IT management platform. This deal isn’t done yet. After a string of accounting woes, Mercury will have to set its books straight before HP will step up to the altar. But with the signs looking good for the two companies to join, HP Senior Vice President of Software Thomas Hogan sat down with InfoWorld Executive Editor at Large Eric Knorr.

InfoWorld: How does this acquisition fit in with the Adaptive Enterprise vision?

Thomas Hogan: My view has been since my arrival that, at the end of the day, machines don’t adapt by themselves. And so even at the root and the kernel of the server software is the secret sauce that enables change and flexibility and a lot of the things that the Adaptive Enterprise vision is built around. So I think it’s kind of the bridge between the Adaptive Enterprise value proposition and some of the core components that we’ve talked about for the past year or two.

IW: Where would that bridge be in an architectural sense?

TH: If you talk to the CIO, 75 to 80 percent of their dollars and people are focused on just operating versus innovating and delivering new value. To be adaptive, one of the many steps is to treat your assets like a portfolio and optimize and prioritize things.

Then there’s change management: being able to effectively deploy, manage, and monitor change in your environment, whether it’s shifting workloads or changes in user demographics. The same holds with applications themselves — understanding, for example, where my Siebel application or my SAP application [is] deployed. What are the interdependencies, the ecosystem around what the end-user sees? And how do I tune that? How do I improve the functionality and the availability? So all those things are wrapped around this new combined offering that Mercury brings with their strength in applications.

I don’t think this is just part of the Adaptive Enterprise message — and I’m a bigot, I’m a software guy — I think we are the secret sauce that turns that vision into reality.

IW: HP is perceived to be more of a leader in datacenter management. You’re talking about extending that change management, portfolio management, and monitoring up to the application level for in-house-developed software.

TH: You’re exactly right. So if you think about OpenView, we’re viewed pretty widely as the leader in distributed management of servers, storage, and networks, with modest capability in applications. And you need all three legs in the stool to effectively manage and optimize the business outcomes of your IT investment. Mercury brings not only strength in application management — which is pretty core to the Mercury vision and value proposition — they bring huge strength earlier in the lifecycle around application performance, design, and quality.

IW: HP has gone in a software direction before and has gotten burned. How far do you plan to extend into software? With the acquisition Systinet, which Mercury bought a few months ago, will you go further into SOA-related software?

TH: Our current thinking is that we’re not going to go there. What you’re referring to, when you start talking about app servers and the development platform, we think that’s been monetized. We could buy our way in, but we just don’t think of that as something we can differentiate and win given where the market is today. So our strategy is not about becoming the development platform and moving all the way to the early stage of the application lifecycle. Our vision is to help manage and optimize the investments you make in applications.

We think SOA is overhyped. But it’s totally real. It’s going to happen, and it’s highly relevant.

Our vision is to continue to innovate and enhance the technology such that we are the clear leader in managing the deployment and optimization of an SOA environment. And that’s why Mercury did the Systinet deal.

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