HP strives to ease open-source woes

Company's new product portfolio melds open-source with commercial software to address integration pain points.

SINGAPORE--Hewlett-Packard (HP) hopes to break down barriers to open-source software adoption with a new portfolio of hardware, software and services.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Mark Manners, director of open source Linux organization at HP Asia-Pacific, said: "Businesses aren't just buying open-source technologies. They have hybrid environments, with [commercial] software from SAP and Oracle running on Windows, Linux and Unix systems."

He added: "There is a plethora of open-source applications, and the difficulty in choosing the right one is causing businesses a lot of problems, on top of the lack of technical skills and training in open-source software."

Manners said HP's new Open Source Integrated Portfolio (OSIP) addresses several pain points. He claims that the offerings provide an easy way for businesses to install tried-and-tested open-source, commercial and hybrid applications--including the JBoss application server and Symas' Connexitor directory services software--across Linux, Windows and HP-UX operating environments, he said.

HP, Manners added, will also provide support services, including training and installation. "That will give customers the confidence to take advantage of the [availability of] choices and cost reduction associated with open-source software," he noted.

The portfolio also includes open-source blueprints, or recipes for customers to design and implement their own integrated, HP-supported middleware.

While HP generally prefers its OSIP customers to run HP hardware, Manners admitted that in reality, businesses run a gamut of operating systems, hardware and applications. "We're not trying to change what customers already have. We'll work with them to provide better value," he said.

For now, the hardware-independent blueprints focus on helping businesses install Web and J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) application servers. In future, industry-specific blueprints will be developed for sectors such as media, banking, telecommunications and healthcare, Manners said.

Indeed, open-source software has seen its fan base grow among corporate types. According to analyst firm IDC, revenue from Linux servers is expected to grow annually at 22.8 percent, compared to the single-digital growth of 3.8 percent for the overall server market.

Linux servers are also projected to account for 25.7 percent of server unit shipments in 2008, up from 15.6 percent in 2003, said IDC.

Manners said: "Linux is always like the poor cousin of Unix and Windows, but it's not that way anymore. It's seen as an alternative to those [operating systems]."

"Linux is moving from the developer community into mainstream business, as shown by the fact that Novell bought SuSE, and Red Hat buying JBoss," he added.

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