Reporter's HP Notebook: The hardest part of ITIL, and other stories

Green IT isn't everywhere, and NonStop blades won't be either (at least not right away)

LAS VEGAS -- Here are some of the goings-on at the HP Technology Forum & Expo this year....

Two IT managers from a large user company gave a presentation on their implementation of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). It had story potential, but when I approached them after their presentation to ask additional questions, they seemed mortified that someone from the press was in the audience. They said their company barred them from speaking with the press without corporate PR consent. I'm not interested in getting people in trouble unnecessarily, but sharing something is good.

Explaining the value of an ITIL investment to top executives -- the staff time involved, training and software costs -- is difficult because the return on investment can't be easily benchmarked until people are complying with ITIL processes. In this case, the IT managers relied on the help of an outside consultant and used case studies to build an argument. Top managers "want to know where the benefit is," said one of the presenters. "When you start out, you can't tell them that."

But there are signs of progress for this firm. A major reason for moving to ITIL is to ensure Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance, and so far this year, the managers haven't been dinged by the auditors thanks to IT process improvements.

The key to success is getting buy-in from everyone affected by the changes. "Companies aren't democracies, but to a certain degree they are a little bit," said one of the presenters.

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Hewlett-Packard Co.'s decision to offer its fault-tolerant NonStop NB50000c system on blades seemed to get general support from users with whom I spoke. But some users sounded a note of caution, or at least of slower adoption. For instance, Paul Watson, a NonStop systems manager at a bank-owned ATM services provider firm that he didn't want identified, said that though he is impressed with HP's price/performance claims for the blade system, he has no plans to rush out and buy it. "I'd give it a year to shake out, but I have no problem with it next year," he said.

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Green is big, but then again, it isn't.

Jim Gordon, a senior network engineer at Computer Marketing Group Inc. in Charlotte, N.C., resells systems and manages them for its customers, which include small and midsize firms.

One issue that he sees is the power management capability in Windows XP, in particular. When XP systems "go to sleep, they don't always wake up," he said. That's an issue when updates are applied in the overnight hours. The main concern of his users is "just make it work," and for now, that means keeping things awake. IT 1, Environment 0.

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HP CEO Mark Hurd merely made a cameo appearance at the company's largest user conference, answering a few prepared questions from Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's solutions group, and introducing Paul Otellini, the CEO of Intel Corp., to assure the crowd that the chip maker's Itanium processor has a strong survival path.

On HP's planned $13.9 billion purchase of Electronic Data Systems Corp., announced in May, Hurd gave a quick canned update on how it will improve HP's ability to offer services in some vertical industries while infusing HP's products and IT automation capabilities into EDS. He said he couldn't say any more until the sale is completed later this year.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

 
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