HP To Acquire Talking Blocks In Service-Oriented-Computing Push

HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., did not release financial details, but said technology from the San Francisco-based Talking Blocks would be incorporated in its OpenView management software. HP did not disclose how many employees of the privately held company would work for its new owner.

Talking Blocks' products would be sold through OpenView's sales channels. HP also planned to use the acquired technology within its Enterprise Systems Group and its Consulting and Integration Services.

Talking Blocks provides a framework for a "service-oriented architecture (SOA)," an emerging set of standards and technology for tying applications together to provide a business process.

For example, a company could publish on its portal a service for retrieving and updating customer information. To the user, the service appears on one form on the portal's interface, but behind the scenes, customer data would be aggregated from legacy, accounting, and sales systems.

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Talking Blocks enables companies to connect the business applications and orchestrate their interactions into a business process. Because the product includes protocol translation, it supports a variety of integration technology, such as Java Messaging Service, IBM's MQSeries, and emerging Web-services standards, as well as native application interfaces.

Integrating Talking Blocks with OpenView greatly expands the latter product's management capabilities. "OpenView has been shaping up to be both for systems and Web-services management," Jason Bloomberg, analyst for market researcher ZapThink LLC, said. "Now, with Talking Blocks, it has added support for service-oriented architectures."

By combining support for SOAs with systems management, HP will make it possible for a company to monitor software tied into a business process and respond to problems, such as a server going down or a performance bottleneck. "If you don't have the underlying systems management, then your services would not be of sufficient quality for an enterprise," Bloomberg said.

HP officials said in a teleconference that the acquisition is also a step within its Adaptive Enterprise strategy, a move toward selling computer power much like a utility sells electricity. Competitors have similar strategies, but under different names. IBM calls its approach on-demand computing, Microsoft has a dynamic systems initiative, and Sun Microsystems refers to it as N1.

Talking Blocks places HP on par with Computer Associates International in terms of laying out plans for supporting emerging computer systems based on a service-oriented architecture, Bloomberg said. CA makes the Unicenter product line.

IBM is adding support for managing Web-services interfaces within its Tivoli management software, but plans on incorporating Talking Blocks-like capabilities within its WebSphere platform for running software.

"IBM is taking a broader approach with a full range of software," Bloomberg said. "There are advantages to both approaches."

BMC Software, the fourth major provider of systems-management tools, has yet to announce its plans. "We don't have a clear idea of where they're going," Bloomberg said. "Everyone else is making a lot of noise, but BMC isn't."

The Talking Blocks acquisition also reflects consolidation within the market for Web-services management software. Analysts expect to see more acquisitions involving some of the remaining small players in the market, including Actional, AmberPoint, Blue Titan, Confluent Software, Digital Evolution, and Flamenco Networks.

This story courtesy of TechWeb .