HP software and service announcements of March 20th

Application transformation sets out HP’s portfolio of products and services for helping organizations transition their application portfolios to the next generation of Cloud-enabled, mobile client-served application solutions. It is a strategy well aimed at the thinking about modernization and rationalization that is current in many enterprises.  Of course HP is not alone. The company faces stiff competition from other key players sensing an enterprise market urgent to capitalize on the potential from Cloud and mobile.

HP’s announcement of 20th March saw the delivery of some key product enhancements in the company’s Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) portfolio along with some new additions. The announcements also saw the launch of a services approach towards helping enterprise organizations accomplish their mobile application and device support goals.

In short, on the product side we saw HP announce the following:

  • Enhancements to HP’s Application Lifecycle Intelligence (ALI)
  • Extensions to HP’s Functional Testing through a partnership with Perfecto Mobile
  • New additions in the form of HP Enterprise Collaboration and HP Anywhere which respectively focus on delivering smart context aware collaboration and the delivery of mobile applications behind the firewall.

The services announcements saw the introduction of HP’s Mobile Application Services comprising the following:

  • HP Testing for Mobility Services
  • HP Enterprise Mobility Services for SAP Applications

The company also announced the HP Application Transformation Experience, a one-day workshop aimed at both educating organizations and helping them to plan and strategize their own application modernization journeys.  Specific details on each of the products and services announced can be found at: http://www8.hp.com/us/en/business-solutions/solution.html?compURI=1079444

The directions in application transformation clearly require more in-depth discussions covering a broader range of tools and services support than that which was outlined in HP’s 20th March 2012 announcements. And no doubt, the company will continue to broaden and deepen its offerings and messaging in this field. The focus on mobile services support, the spotlight on enhancing user experience and the feature extensions of the Application Lifecycle Intelligence (ALI) product part of HP’s ALM platform, and a few other details prompt some specific comments from us. More noteworthy is what we believe the announcement says about HP’s approach to application transformation.

The highlights for us

ALM: insight with auto configuration

In the ALM space, HP has gone a step further with its Application Lifecycle Intelligence (ALI) software. ALI was introduced mid-2011 as an ‘action-oriented decision support system’ embedded in the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) software suite. HP’s coverage of the lifecycle used to skip from requirements to testing, largely bypassing development. Although you could always mine the data from ALM (and Quality Center) for useful intelligence about the progress and quality of software in development, the absence of information from the actual code-cutting stages was a glaring omission. HP ALI plugs that gap, in a way that only a few ALM solutions do, by collecting quality stats about development activity and connecting requirements and test traceability to code under SCM, unit tests and builds. Builds become another quality gateway (along with unit tests and late cycle ‘QA testing’). It is a point in the lifecycle at which to correlate quality and progress information like defects and test plans not just to software objects like tests or program modules, but also to requirements, risks and change requests – things that the line of business user understands. This is very close to the approach we outlined in our recent Creative Short, “Greater IT insight through balanced Quality Assurance.”

ALI 2.5 just announced adds automated environment configuration to the product’s feature set. If this can really be achieved at the click of a button, it is a major boon to developers switching projects with obvious benefits in reducing effort and timescales. What’s curious is the siting of this feature within ALI, which in all other respects is a decision support system. There is a wide spread between the automated environment configuration user and the decision support user. It would seem that ALI, with its connectors to developer IDEs, just happens to be a convenient place to site a developer oriented feature within a toolset essentially targeted at QA, project managers and/or the project office.

Enterprise mobility through services

Despite the addition of new tooling products and enhancements to existing ones, HP’s announcement is all the more interesting for its mobile services offerings.

Certainly, having tools that can help individuals to more productively address the development and delivery of key application strategies such as mobile and Cloud is vital to ensure flexibility of choice and capability. However, the current cornucopia of technology advances and the myriad programming, architecture and delivery models now in play, has meant that many enterprise organizations struggle to find or employ the appropriate processes, skills or resources to develop them internally or grow them organically. HP’s mobile application services, including Testing for Mobility and HP Enterprise Mobility Services for SAP, present a pragmatic approach to addressing these challenges when it comes to enabling enterprise mobility.

Secure software distribution

The announcement of the HP Anywhere component is a welcome development. It provides a secure distribution platform for HP mobile applications behind the firewall. However, the company needs to ensure that customers can use these facilities for secure distribution of home grown applications. At the same time, HP needs to also ensure that any outsourced development can be transferred back to the customer along with relevant training and up skilling so that they can maintain applications if necessary.

Nor do the announcements around the mobile services support state that the development services will result in signed code. This presents a potential security weakness as well as an operations barrier for some platforms in the future. The stance being adopted by Microsoft will see the prevention of non-signed code from running on Windows 8 for the ARM processor chip.

CIC’s view

Subscribing to the “experience matters” roll call

The direction HP has taken with its portfolio is obvious when one considers the impacting factors. These range from: widespread mobile device usage; the uptake of tablet devices like the iPad within the workplace; the influence of consumerization on user expectations; the success and prevalence of social media and applications and the desire by many organizations to replicate their value and employ their tactics.

Nor is there anything surprising in the observation from Jonathan Rende, vice president and general manager, Application Transformation Solutions, Software, HP that “Modern enterprise applications require a different approach to design and testing than traditional applications…”.  It is a point that is being recognized within the industry and most notably by a client market faced with the daunting reality.

The focus on enhancing user experience and engagement has been well made with the products and services announced. To this end one might even go as far as to point out that HP is merely travelling down a path well trodden by the likes of Microsoft and Adobe. Both companies have long pursued strategies that place the experience delivered – and the context of engagement and interaction – at the heart of their application development and delivery platforms. They have respectively raised the profile for improving the collaboration between designers and developers in order to ensure unity in the experience goals. However, what was sometimes lacking in their messaging was the pivotal role integration with backend systems played in ensuring that the experience delivered was as much about data access and context as it was about the digital media used. It is the support of – and integration with enterprise back office systems – that stands players like HP and IBM in good stead in this aspect of enterprise mobility support.

HP’s Enterprise Mobility Services for SAP Applications certainly shows that the company recognizes well the potential and demand for mobile access to data held in key enterprise application systems.

Continuation of a transformation agenda

Transformation and modernization strategies are certainly not new to HP and there is still work for the company to do.

Ultimately, HP’s latest announcements around Application Transformation herald an enterprise approach to finally accepting mobile devices as part of the core development platforms. By bringing together significant testing tools and adding those to secure delivery and management solutions, HP is advancing the case for the mobile device in the enterprise. Better still the range of professional services on offer will help uplift the complexity of understanding the development and testing of mobile devices away from customers.

HP clearly recognizes the demands of the mobile platform and the skill challenges within enterprise organizations. That it is quickly delivering solutions and services to augment its application lifecycle management and quality portfolio will do much to cement the company’s worth within its customer base and propel its value proposition to the wider enterprise market.