HP Acquiring Consera and Novadigm

Hewlett-Packard announced that it has signed definitive agreements to acquire two management software companies: Novadigm Inc. (Nasdaq: NVDM) headquartered in Mahwah, NJ, and Consera Software, based in Bellevue, WA.
Written by Corey Ferengul, Contributor

Hewlett-Packard announced that it has signed definitive agreements to acquire two management software companies: Novadigm Inc. (Nasdaq: NVDM) headquartered in Mahwah, NJ, and Consera Software, based in Bellevue, WA. The two companies will be assimilated into HP's OpenView software unit.

Overall, META Group sees the acquisitions as positive for all companies involved, providing features that will complement HP’s portfolio. Novadigm brings the ability to enable change and configuration management processes (with a desktop and server focus). Consera is a newer vendor, targeting server management. However, its strength lies in the ability to provide an easy-to-use workflow engine combined with a strong object model capability that enables users to first model their IT infrastructure and then link it to automated change activities. Together, all capabilities will complement HP’s Utility Data Center (UDC) and OpenView software portfolio, as well as further solidify the HP Adaptive Management initiative.

HP Adaptive Management is about introducing more automation throughout the data center. However, HP had holes in its portfolio for intelligent configuration management, which was centered primarily on UDC. While HP partnered with Novadigm, and even owned a portion of it, the company could not achieve the integration level it sought. Although the technologies can be adopted individually, as we move forward we see a good complement between several of HP’s ICM technologies: 1) UDC as an engine for driving broad configuration of an environment; 2) Novadigm products enabling changes on individual devices within an environment; and 3) Consera enforcing the workflow for overall change processes. We also anticipate tight integration with the HP Service Desk.

The modeling and workflow capabilities of Consera’s technology will be essential for HP to offer higher-level control of the overall IT environment. The OpenView products are extremely popular for tactical management of core infrastructure domains. HP has been a longtime advocate of process automation, but its products have been weak in fulfilling this dream (most of its competitors are also deficient here). With the addition of model-driven automation, better process-oriented management is closer to reality.

Alone, each company’s solutions fill voids in the OpenView product portfolio. As IT organizations consider the future of adaptive organization concepts (HP’s term is the Adaptive Enterprise), significant automation of manual tasks is essential. No vendor, including HP, yet offers the full promise of these ambitious dreams, but these two acquisitions are steps in the right direction. Most notably, the combination of Consera and Novadigm forms the foundation of broad-based configuration and change management. Additional modules will need to be added as embellishments to this core.

HP obviously recognizes the need to bolster its management offerings to enable stronger IT automation. These acquisitions, along with others, are evidence of a commitment to expand capabilities rapidly. Now, the task will be to assimilate these acquisitions in a manner that quickly yields HP-branded products that integrate with the overall OpenView portfolio and offers IT organizations tangible value from the consolidation. This will be more difficult than articulating the Adaptive Enterprise vision, because it will require execution and coordination where such virtues are not historically proven. The current HP software management team appears to understand the challenges and how to succeed in this bold endeavor. It will need to prove its ability to execute in a timely manner, as this will determine the success of the Adaptive Enterprise vision much more profoundly than a mere collection of the right technology components.

In terms of the systems management space, the main issues are how this will affect the existing HP relationship with Altiris (which covers thousands of customers) and what effect this will have on vendors within that market segment. HP has stated there will be no change in the agreement with Altiris. The company has reiterated its commitment to joint solution offerings with Altiris, including client management and rapid deployment for servers. META Group expects the relationship to remain the same through the midterm, but in the long-term, HP will have to address Altiris’s ability to up-sell to the same large enterprise environments that Novadigm serves.

The long-term effect on Altiris and other vendors within this space (e.g., Marimba, LANDesk) is positive, because it consolidates a competitor and validates to users that this is an important market. HP will enhance and promote the capabilities of Novadigm to fit into its overall Adaptive Enterprise initiative, and thus enable smaller, more flexible companies (e.g., Altiris) to concentrate on providing targeted capabilities to non-HP-centric companies. HP will now also have to clarify its current relationship with Opsware, which is tied to the UDC offering.

Implicit within these acquisitions is the fact that other major management vendors (CA, IBM) will consider augmenting their portfolio offerings to compete with HP. This will result in further merger-and-acquisition activity within this space, and should be considered from a tactical perspective for any organization planning to implement one of these solutions.

Bottom Line: META Group sees HP’s acquisitions of Novadigm and Consera as positive moves that enhance the HP Adaptive Enterprise message.

Business Impact: Additional evolution of operational automation from major IT vendors will gradually improve IT investments.

META Group originally published this article on 6 February 2004.

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