Is that the direction the industry is moving in now, or is it going along a more fragmented path? We still think its very fragmented. We see that the writing is very strongly on the wall from customers that companies that adopt that methodology and drive to that are the ones that they prefer going forward. Let me give you an example: We recently announced a high degree of integration of our OpenManage tool kits within Microsoft [Corp.s] SMS [Systems Management Software] 2003 management suite. A lot of customers have been moving to using SMS for their apps deployment. To be honest with you, we saw that as a small step forward in this. But the degree of customer and industry interest we got in that far surprised me, because in what one way seems to be a small step forward, a customer with that SMS 2003 just gets a complete view of the hardware, operating systems and software.What needs to be done to further this trend, and what is Dell doing in this area? There are two sets of things. I want to be practical for a second in standards. If you want to manage a Dell server vs. an HP server vs. an IBM server vs. Sun or anybody else, its your management tool kit interfacing to that system. Today, to do simple, over-the-network management things like reboot server, download BIOS, anything else, each one of those things is unique in implementation to each of the vendors. So two sets of things need to happen. One, practically and pragmatically, weve increased our development spend to increase the number of tool kits that we provide that integrate within the enterprise management suite. For example, we took our development team and had them write the code that allows our hardware to be interrogated and managed by SMS 2003. Microsoft then took that code and integrated it within SMS 03 to manage our systems. Weve taken that same code and weve developed it so that it actually works with many of the other ISV-based tools out there from Altiris [Inc.], OpenView, CA Unicenter and others so that with how tightly integrated it is with Microsoft allows those management suites to interrogate our systems. We did that because we understand our hardware well and can end up providing that as a free tool kit either to the management tool vendors or directly to our customers so that they can get that single view. Longer term, we think the development of standard interfaces like the IPMI [Intelligent Platform Management Interface] and others can actually define a set of standards core to a system that can be implemented in the same way across all hardware vendors so that the fundamentals can be achieved. That doesnt stop innovation. Theres still plenty of room for innovation out there. But what it takes away is a lot of the redundancy in both industry development and customer development and deployment so that we can actually start reinvesting that in future innovations [and] solve problems that are real. Its so obvious that every customer in the IT world needs to manage their hardware. Our efforts are ensuring that were providing through our own development or partnerships with the ISVs tool kits to manage our hardware from the ISV-based management tool kits and, secondly, increase investment in driving the standardization committees and ensuring that our platforms are fully compliant with those standards. In the future, you can expect as I introduce new servers, they will all be completely compliant with the latest version of, for example, the IPMI specification so that any ISV can write and be able to manage a Dell server. Were clearly encouraging the industry to move along that path as well because we think its very clear that customers would want to be able to have that competition look at other areas of innovation, be they in product or business model, to make those decisions. Next page: Is Dell falling behind while waiting on standards?
That actually answers the problem, "How can I actually start going forward to reduce redundancy in the management environment that Im using, both people and tools?" So we see it as a trend. We believe now, with the feedback weve gotten, its the time to push that trend aggressively to happen. Many people are talking about it. We are putting out development activities behind that trend.