Sidebar: Projects Prompt Quest for New Management Features

DENVER -- The need for software that can help IT staffers manage the implementation of SOAs and monitor their use was a big topic of discussion at this month's HP Software Forum here. Several attendees said that as more and more companies launch SOAs, sophisticated tools for supporting the technology are becoming increasingly important.

For example, DHL International GmbH plans to launch an SOA prototype in about a month, said Dennis Deane, the delivery company's Prague-based program manager for European IT services. DHL is eager to deploy an SOA because of expectations that it will enable easy reuse of applications, vastly reducing development time for both internal and external projects.

"It will eliminate the custom connections we have to make to each [business] partner," Deane noted.

But managing the SOA will be complex and require the installation of software that can help automate the process, Deane added. He said DHL is exploring SOA management tools from IBM, BEA Systems and other vendors. It also wants to review the OpenView SOA Manager software that Hewlett-Packard Co. announced at the conference, which was jointly sponsored by HP and the OpenView Forum International user group.

DHL began a global rollout of HP's OpenView Service Desk 4.5 software in May 2004. The company has already begun to see a 20% to 30% reduction in the cost of many IT functions related to configuration management and help desk services, said Gary Griffin, senior vice president and head of IT services at DHL's Scottsdale, Ariz., data center, one of three that the company runs globally.

Dennis Deane of DHL International GmbH
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Dennis Deane of DHL International GmbH
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Savings and Efficiency

The multimillion-dollar Service Desk implementation is expected to ultimately save DHL "tens of millions" annually by eliminating five licenses for rival help desk tools plus the servers they run on, Deane said. It should also improve IT efficiency by providing simplified help desk procedures for supporting DHL's 130,000 PCs and 2,600 servers, he added.

The success DHL is seeing on the Service Desk project is contributing to Deane's interest in reviewing SOA Manager. He noted, though, that it might be another one to two years before DHL has a full SOA in place. "An SOA would be a very big deal," Deane said.

HP officials and industry analysts said SOA Manager, which starts at $25,000 plus additional costs for software agents and brokers, will be most applicable to large customers. The tool has been tested by a group of 20 companies globally over the past 18 months, according to Bill Emmett, HP's chief solutions manager for OpenView.

A senior vice president at a global financial conglomerate that was one of the SOA Manager beta testers said it hopes to be the first company to deploy the software. The user, who asked that neither he nor his company be named, said the firm expects to gain a competitive advantage within the financial services industry by using the management software.

"We don't think of this technology in ones or zeros, but as an enabler of business services," he said, adding that SOA Manager and the architecture it supports should help the firm "keep business processes simpler."

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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