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HP rejigs e-biz software

Softly softly, catchee McNealy

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Hewlett Packard, which has spent much of the last decade in a swirling La Ronde of middleware partnerships, finally floated its own boat yesterday.

Despite a formidable R&D spend, it's been company policy at HP to partner with other vendors such as BEA and BMC in a complicated game of "after you... no, after you" for enterprise software, while sensibly eschewing grand end-to-end architectural plans.

But that ended with the acquisition of Bluestone in a stock swap deal last Fall, and the application server vendor now forms the focus of HP's £2 billion software business which was relaunched yesterday.

The 400 staff acquired from Bluestone have swelled to over 800 with the addition of HP's OpenView division. HP announced 25 new updates yesterday (which is about 24 more than Sun managed at its own splashy software event last week) which integrate its own E-Speak, Chai, security and lines into the offering. All the top software brass shamelessly sport Bluestone business cards, we noticed, which can't be accidental.

And as before, HP is neutral between the Sun and Microsoft camps. So the new HP Bluestone "Total-e-Server" (we wince as we write it, just as we know you're wincing as you read it, so let's share the pain) is Sun-certified J2EE. IBM draws the line at J2EE, but HP is happy to play ball, there.

There's a new transaction manager and a new publish and subscribe server for B2B transactions (oh, God, alright then - it's called "Total-e-Syndication") which is the hub of the new announcements. That's another way of doing what BizTalk et al have been promising: automating the exchanging of back office information such as pricing between traders. The syndication server costs $100,000 but a free listener Bean will be available for mom and pop shops, which provides notification but nothing fancier.

The ploy of remaining neutral between Sun and Microsoft marketectures, and betwixt the many XML schema, poses a challenge. But HP says it will support, and try and influence these standards, and build bridges where the standards clash. For example by mapping between XML schema. We've a soft spot for the neglected Chai (a smaller, faster, freer Java) and E-Speak (which is the only lookup and discovery protocol that's software libre), so we hope HP does appreciate what it has here, and makes good use of it both in the standards battles, and the world at large. ®

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