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HP Brings Just-in-Time Discovery to Cloud Computing

Increased use of private cloud computing and virtualized infrastructures compounds an existing problem: how to track IT assets and their interdependencies. HP is aiming to address the challenge with its Configuration Management System 10 (CMS), which includes new HP Universal Discovery software, the company said.

The new HP CMS includes automated discovery capabilities to support deployment and management of physical, virtual and cloud projects, while decreasing the time enterprises spend on manual discovery, says Jimmy Augustine, product marketing manager, HP Software. The HP Universal Discovery software enables customers to do inventory as well as discover dependencies. "The just-in-time discovery allows the environment to run discovery when new virtual machines appear and when new software appears on those virtual machines," he explains.

Ronni Colville, VP and distinguished analyst, IT operations management, at Gartner, said HP CMS and Universal Discovery address the increased complexity that comes with configuration management database implementations and, most importantly, enable enterprises to understand interdependencies.

"It's very robust in discovering relationships," says Colville. Being able to view dependencies, inventory and licenses in one dashboard offers users a more efficient means of tracking and modeling data center services, applications and infrastructure, she explains.

"The reason people want these dependency tools is so that they can understand the impact of a change," says Colville, adding that moving a database into the cloud, for example, can affect many applications. "I need to know the dependencies of these things. I need to know what the application looks like."

Augustine says change impact analysis is a common use case for HP CMS. "The greatest contributor to service interruptions is faulty or poorly planned changes," he explains.

Virtualization also exacerbates the challenge of tracking various resources, such as applications and virtual machines.

"The challenge of virtual resources is that they have a habit of moving around," says Augustine. "They're very dynamic in nature." In addition to moving from server to server, self-service portals allow a wide range of users to provision resources on the fly, so the network operations teams have to be able to account for them--and that's where the HP Universal Discovery software comes into play.

Larger enterprises also have heterogenous environments with various business units making their purchasing decisions for IT services, adds Augustine. HP Universal Discovery, therefore, is vendor-agnostic.

What ultimately makes discovery such a critical tool is that those who manage network operations are measured on service levels and financial accountability and need to be able to map out services and minimize disruptions, he says. "When you do have problems or want to approve changes, you have an accurate, up-to-date view of your environment."

Another new feature of HP CMS 10 is its support for multitenant environments, which Augustine says is of particular interest to multinational organizations and large government entities. "They have distinct and different business units that are sometimes highly regulated, and to meet compliance needs they have to keep a record of all of their changes."

HP CMS 10 also improves how users can consume the information it provides with a new browser available to even those who aren't administrators, says Augustine. "It gives consumption to the masses, if you will. The security teams, the database teams, the networking teams and the enterprise architecture teams can now access this data with a very intuitive interface."

In addition to better managing their existing cloud environment, Augustine says, enterprises are looking to scale up their cloud deployments and understanding that what they already have is critical.

Dennis Drogseth, a VP at Enterprise Management Associates, notes that HP Universal Discovery includes what was formerly called the Desktop Management Interface and HP Discovery and Dependency Mapping, another asset-tracking tool.

HP CMS provides the information enterprises need to model and map out their future cloud deployments that include logical and physical interdependencies, says Drogseth. "A model allows you to prioritize where and how you want to manage your services based on what's critical."

This includes their own IT interdependences, be they on-premise or private cloud, but also what's delivered to them by service providers--although even with HP CMS, getting visibility into those services is still a challenge, according to Drogseth.

"Historically, service providers of any kind have been categorically very rigid about and unpartner-like in how they've worked with their IT organizations," he explains. He adds that he sees this changing as service providers adapt to respond to customer requirements. "There will have to be a transformation of the service provider culture to be more of a partner."