HP Gets Serious On Software

With its lifecycle manager, ALM 11, HP is starting a new push into the software industry under CEO Leo Apotheker

Hewlett-Packard is making a serious, concentrated push into the software business — perhaps its most serious to date — by capitalising on its strengths while reaching out to all players in the software development life cycle.

At its HP Universe conference in Barcelona, the systems, software and services company launched its latest software suite, ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) 11, which represents more than two years of R&D, according to Bill Veghte, executive vice president of HP’s Software and Solutions organisation.

“The need for innovation and agility is key for applications today, and we think the releases we are doing — from Quality Center to ALM 11 — are the right way,” Veghte told eWEEK. “Our new ALM solution is platform- and IDE [integrated development environment]-agnostic.”

Veghte (left), who spent nearly 20 years at Microsoft as a top executive in the Windows organisation, said ALM 11 delivers an architecture designed to accelerate the reliable, secure delivery of applications and services. The platform automates application modernisation — from requirements management through quality and performance, he added.

“The competition in the ALM space has started to heat up over the last year,” said Dave West, an analyst with Forrester Research. “This HP release is essentially an announcement around the Mercury tools that came into HP through an acquisition four years ago.”

Software as a differentiator

HP acquired Mercury Software in 2006 for $4.5 billion (£2.6bn) in a deal designed to bring together the strength of HP’s OpenView systems, network and IT service management software with Mercury’s strength in application management, application delivery, IT governance and service-oriented architecture governance. Another goal at that time was to increase HP’s software business to more than $2 billion (£1.3bn) in annual revenue.

But HP has far exceeded both goals. Under Veghte, HP’s Software and Solutions unit is a $3.6 billion (£2.3bn) business, and the new ALM 11 solution is evidence of HP’s maturity in the software field.

“As organisations begin to depend more on software, the ability to create and deliver it effectively is a key differentiator,” said Forrester’s West.

West cited a recent Forrester study commissioned by HP that showed that 69 percent of IT decision-makers have earmarked 25 percent of their annual IT budget for application modernisation, while 30 percent said they will dedicate more than 50 percent.

“Historically, people haven’t done a great job with ALM; it used to be these huge offerings,” he said.

However, West added, “Most organisations have aspired to an ALM discipline but haven’t been able to implement it because of the need to support lots of different teams and development processes on complex projects.

“One interesting thing about this announcement from HP is the broadness of the offering. It’s not just SDLC [software development life cycle], but it includes operations and management and other disciplines.”