by Jamie Beckett
Thermal inkjet printing. The pocket scientific calculator.
Precision architecture RISC technology. Those are the kinds
of innovations for which HP Labs is best known.
Yet these days, the lab's research isn't focused on hardware
or devices like these. As software becomes a larger part
of HP's business, it's also become the largest element in
the business of HP Labs.
Why the change?
"Put simply, it's what our customers value," said
Dick Lampman, senior vice president for research, HP, and
director of HP Labs. "Even in the midst of the Internet
bubble, CIOs were telling us that they were under increasing
pressure to control costs and deliver more business value
Lampman was one of four senior HP executives who spoke recently
at an invitation-only conference of software business leaders,
Software 2005. He joined Shane Robison, HP executive vice
president and chief strategy and technology office; Russ
Daniels, HP vice president and CTO for software, and Martin
Fink, vice president for Linux at HP at the event organized
by the Sand Hill Group venture capitalists.
Software research at HP Labs, he said, is focused on the
"To us, the irony of management software today is that
while business change is rapid, changes in IT systems are
anything but," Lampman said. "How can we make IT
more responsive to those changes? The answer is policy-driven,
One example of this is HP Labs technology internally called
Quartermaster, recently announced as part of the company's
OpenView Automation Manager. It is model-based automation
software that helps lower costs and makes systems both more
robust and flexible by adjusting the configuration of IT
services and applications based on changes in demand.
Another area where HP Labs has focused attention is security.
"We have a very simple goal when it comes to security
-- to secure access to all the right information, by the
right people, all the time," Lampman said.
HP Labs has developed several innovative technologies aimed
at achieving that goal. These include:
-- Active Countermeasures is a distributed scanning tool
that imitates a computer worm’s ability to take advantage
of vulnerabilities on certain machines, and gets to those
-- Virus Throttler measures system activity, throttling
viruses by limiting the rate of connections to new hosts
to just one new computer a second. Virus Throttler is now
shipped with all HP blade servers and is available in the
HP ProCurve Ethernet switches.
-- Polaris is a system designed for Windows XP to stop virus
attacks on standalone devices, allowing users to configure
most applications so that they launch with only the rights
they need to do the job the user wants done.
HP Labs has been particularly active in the area of digital
media. The HP Digital Media platform, now up and running
at Sony Pictures Entertainment, makes it possible for studios
to create content once and then reuse it many times in any
standard or format. "
Too many media and entertainment companies are stuck halfway
between the analog and digital worlds. For movies, once content
is shot, even if it starts out as digital media, it's still
a multi-step, multi-week process to make sure it's logged,
tagged, and shipped properly – which is time-consuming and
expensive," Lampman said.
The HP Digital media platform is an industry-standards-based
framework of enterprise software, hardware and services which
allows media companies to digitize, store, process, manage,
distribute, and archive complex media assets securely and
Lampman said he expects to see software to continue to evolve
with open, service-oriented architectures, grid and utility
service models, as well as with newly emerging technologies
like the Semantic Web.
Companies in all industries will need management solutions
-- both commercial and open-source software -- to make their
IT investments more effective, to automate and virtualize
their IT operations, he added.
"This view of the future is shaping the projects we
have at HP Labs," Lampman said. "It is an exciting
time for all of us with industry after industry being reshaped
by software technologies."