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Have Web service, will acquire

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HP has snatched up one of the many wee Web services companies out there and said it may buy a couple more as needed.

By the end of this month, HP expects to complete its purchase of Talking Blocks - a Web services software management company located in San Francisco. The idea is to add Talking Blocks' tools into HP's Utility Data Center (UDC) and OpenView software packages.

Talking Blocks' main goal is to add a layer on top of J2EE application servers that makes it easier to manage software running on a variety of different platforms. It's Talking Blocks Management Suite pulls this off by providing a shared set of security, version control, integration and monitoring services.

Yes, the vomit inducing words are part of the product description. Evolution, leverage, exposing business functionality, adaptable and insulated. Talking Blocks has them all.

The key bit of its software is the Runtime Service Registry. Ideally, this lets a customer link Web services from a variety of consumers either inside or outside the firewall. The registry helps track various apps, monitoring their performance and communications.

HP expects Talking Blocks' software to be a nice addition to its UDC management suite. HP can already help customers manage hardware from various vendors from one console. The users can move apps around the "virtual set of resources" as needed. Talking Blocks will add a new layer of tools to the software part of this puzzle.

This is all very fluffy and cute and ambiguous. Thankfully, the always eloquent Nora Denzel, senior vice president of HP's software unit, helped provide a moment of clarity on how Talking Blocks and UDC might work together.

Say a customer wanted to find out how many transactions it could run before the close of the stock market on a given day. It could turn to the Talking Blocks code for the analysis. If a little more horsepower is need to crank all the calculations, messages would be sent to the UDC console to send in some extra servers and get the job done.

Talking Blocks lists four customers, including Verizon, BusinessWire and Moody's, so maybe it can actually pull some of this off.

HP's big challenge will be linking a new complex management package with UDC and OpenView. This is the same problem that Sun Microsystems faces after having acquired some Web services software makers of its own.

Denzel said HP may not stop at TalkingBlocks in its quest to bring Web services to the world. It will acquire companies and partner as needed to make dreams a reality. ®

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