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May 2005

Software innovation: It's what our customers value

HP Labs' Dick Lampman discusses research in IT automation, security, digital media management and more


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As software becomes a larger part of HP's business, it's also become the largest element in the business of HP Labs.

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 from IT."

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 infrastructure side.

"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, model-based automation."

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.

Securing IT

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 machines first.

-- 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.

Create once, use again

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 efficiently.

Looking ahead

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."

Related links

» Read the speech
» Dick Lampman bio
» HP executive team
» Software 2005

Related products

» Security solutions - HP Virus Throttle technology
» HP Services: Security IT

Related tech reports

» Quartermaster: A resource utility system
» A capacity management service for resource pools
» Virus throttling (overview)
» Implementing and testing a virus throttle
» Polaris: Virus safe computing for Windows XP


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