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HP's expanded SOA services tighten SAP partnership

HP continues to throw its weight behind SOA, announcing expanded services for SAP enterprise SOA.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) is expanding its services offerings to help customers take advantage of SAP's enterprise service-oriented architecture (SOA).

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP's new services address the full lifecycle of an enterprise SOA implementation, from the decision-making process to managing the final product, as well as servers and storage.

HP offers customers a couple of ways to approach the first step -- upgrading to mySAP ERP -- based on their SOA expertise.

For newer SAP customers, HP will offer an envisioning service based on SAP's Discovery System that includes user education and identifying potential projects. The Discovery System is a combination of tools and standard software components that helps customers develop their own SOA applications. It sells for $10,000.

"Many clients haven't started the upgrade path yet," said Tim Treat, manager of worldwide packaged applications for enterprise applications services for HP. "And we don't expect most to do this as a 'big bang.'"

For customers who are already familiar with SOA and NetWeaver, HP will offer an assessment service consisting of software portfolio analysis, cost saving analysis and identification of project starting points.

After companies upgrade, services include governance and architecture, deployment and management services, as well as support for some NetWeaver components such as NetWeaver Portal, NetWeaver XI and NetWeaver BI. HP will also leverage its July 2006 acquisition of Mountain View, Calif.'s Mercury Interactive Corp. to provide SOA software of its own.

In addition, HP will expand partnerships with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp. on strategy, hardware and appliances, and IDS Scheer AG, a business process software and services provider with headquarters in Saarbrucken, Germany, for business process consulting.

These services bring HP's support of SAP's SOA up to par with that of Oracle's Fusion middleware SOA, which HP expanded in February 2006.

This announcement is just the latest example of the rising importance of SOA, according to John Madden, research director for Boston-based Ovum Summit, who cited announcements from companies like IBM, Hamilton, Bermuda-based Accenture Ltd. and McLean, Va.'s BearingPoint Inc. in the past six months.

"SOA has certainly grabbed customers' attention," Madden said. "Even if they may not fully understand its implications, they are curious to find out, and there has been a real uptick in vendor activity paralleling this customer interest."

Madden said that while some customers are proceeding cautiously with SOA and are not ready or willing to do a full SOA implementation yet, many are getting on board.

"There are plenty of customers using elements of SOA and others that want to look into what it might mean for them," Madden said.

This cautious approach from potential customers has shaped the SOA offerings on the market.

"Many vendors and firms are presenting their SOA offerings in a lifecycle approach that stresses an evolutionary journey rather than something that will happen beyond a company's ability to handle it," Madden said.

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HP sees the competition in this area coming from a few main sources, according to Treat. IBM could be seen as a major competitor because the company has both the infrastructure and consulting capabilities necessary.

Likewise, larger systems integrators like Accenture, New York's Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Paris-based Capgemini are service options, but don't provide hardware or software. While these companies represent competition, they are also key hardware partners, according to Treat.

It is still relatively early to say any one company is an overwhelming leader in the SOA services market, according to Madden.

"Each has their strengths," he said, "but SOA is such a new concept that there's room for all of these companies to play in the market."

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