IBM Global Services last week put its stamp of approval on the management service provider model, launching its Services Anywhere remote management offering for enterprise Web sites located at a customers site.
The IBM Managed Hosting- Services Anywhere offering can be used as an extension of an enterprises IT staff when it wants to expand a Web site but doesnt have the technical resources to manage it. It can also be used to remotely manage sites that customers prefer to have physical control over, according to Bill Schumacher, global offering executive for IGS, in Tampa, Fla.
Industry analysts say they believe enterprises are increasingly looking to take back that control over their Web infrastructures.
"Were hearing that clients want to take their servers back in-house," said Bruce Caldwell, an analyst with Gartner Inc., in Riverhead, N.Y. "That is driv-ing demand for this."
The move is in part motivated by concerns over the financial stability of hosting companies, as well as by physical security concerns, Caldwell said. At the same time, enterprises have used hosting and application service provider offerings as transitional services. "Theyve outsourced development and deployment of new systems; then, once theyre stable, they bring them back in-house," he said.
IBM is extending the managed services it offers at its hosting centers to customer sites through an "infrastructure cabinet," which IBM technicians install at a customers location. The cabinet contains network switches, a firewall, a remote KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switch and a monitoring server. The combination allows IGS operators to remotely power or reset devices. Monitoring data is then fed back to a central management server in IBMs operations center in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
"Its a subset of equipment we use in our e-business hosting centers and is dedicated to that customer," Schumacher said. Managed firewalls and load balancers can also be installed in the cabinet, which is connected to a clients servers and communicates with the operations center through a virtual private network connection supplied by Virtela Communications Inc. It takes IBM about eight weeks to deploy the cabinet.
Clients can opt to buy nearly any of the managed services available at IBM e-business hosting facilities.
"We will monitor and manage servers and proactively take action based on the customers desires. We can install managed firewalls for them, do local and geographical load balancing," Schumacher said. Customers can also opt for a range of security, performance or application support services, as well as advanced network and systems monitoring services offered through IBM business partners Siterock Corp. and Keynote Systems Corp.
IGS uses BMC Software Inc.s Patrol to manage customers applications.
Services Anywhere covers any vendors equipment, including servers from Sun Microsystems Inc., and it starts at $50,000 for a one-time installation fee and $25,000 per month.