HP is to release a network configuration management product this summer based on technology licensed from Voyence.

The HP OpenView Network Configuration Manager would enable customers to collect configuration data from multivendor routers, hubs and switches, as well as track changes made to those devices. The software installs on an application server and then takes an inventory or topology feed from a product such as Network Node Manager (NNM). From there, it will automatically collect configuration information from network devices and maintain an up-to-date record of who accesses devices, changes made and updates to configurations.

The software will fill a gap in HP's product line that industry watchers say is critical for network management vendors. According to market research firm IDC, the worldwide network configuration management market will increase from US$768 million in 2004 to $1.12 billion by 2009. The software is already integrated with popular OpenView products such as NNM under an existing partnership.

"Because we have been hearing more from our customers about network lifecycle management, we have aligned this product with the [Information Technology Infrastructure Library] to ensure it follows the best practices for incident, release and problem management," says Jeffrey Scheaffer, senior product manager, Network Services Management, OpenView Business Unit, HP. "Using [Voyence] technology, we can offer customers end-to-end network lifecycle management."

Scheaffer says the software also reports on security, audit and compliance metrics to help network managers prove devices are secure and access to them is documented.

Ideally OpenView Network Configuration Manager could also feed data into HP's federated configuration management database (CMDB), which is embedded in OpenView Service Desk and collects data from myriad application, systems and other resources. A federated CMDB would involve a centralised database with hooks into other data sources and would not require IT managers to abandon their existing databases and move configuration data to another server. The federated model would make it possible for data to reside in multiple sources, with the centralised source having knowledge of where the data lies throughout the enterprise. Systems management software maker Opsware is also expected to better integrate its network and server configuration and automation tools into a larger data centre automation product.

Voyence, which competes with the likes of AlterPoint, Intelliden and Opsware (since it acquired Rendition Networks), uses software that includes modelling technology to allow network managers to virtually configure devices in software before they are actually deployed, apply existing configurations to new devices and compare if changes made to devices would impact the network. The deal with HP will help Voyence expand into existing HP accounts.

"The integration of our technology with many other pieces of the HP management suite adds value to a lot of management disciplines," says Darren Orzechowski, vice president of Worldwide Marketing at Voyence. "Network configuration management is at the core of high-end initiatives such as CMDB, compliance, automation and data centre consolidation."

HP says OpenView Network Configuration Manager can work stand-alone or integrate with existing OpenView tools. The software will be demonstrated at the annual HP Software Forum this month in Miami and is scheduled to be generally available by 1 August, and HP says start prices could fall between $20,000 and $30,000. The vendor has yet to set a final price.