HP Looks to Ease Enterprise Services Headaches

HP's new Multi-Supplier Integration Service will help large enterprises get their many IT services under control.

BOSTON-Hewlett-Packard wants to help enterprises get control of their myriad data center service contracts.

HP on Aug. 11 unveiled its MSI (Multi-Supplier Integration) Service, an offering for their largest enterprise customers that is designed to not only help company officials gain a better view of their IT service contracts, but to evaluate the quality of those services and to bring together the services they need.

The move comes at a time when enterprises are changing the way they're deploying services in their data centers, according to HP executives. In the past, enterprises usually entered years-long megadeals with single service providers who would be the primary source of their data center services, according to Rob Taylor, vice president of data center services for HP's Enterprise Services unit.

It meant that businesses only had one services vendor to deal with. However, there were multiple problems with this model, including the difficulty and expense to enterprises if the services deal wasn't working out, and the fact that technology and business needs change rapidly during the timeframe of a 10- or 15-year deal, Taylor said in a roundtable discussion with journalists here Aug. 11

"The big outsourcing deal is an unnatural thing," he said. "It always has been. ... The economics are wrong at the very start."

The trend now is toward smaller, more directed services deals with multiple vendors. Having so many service vendors can create management issues for CIOs and other business managers who have to keep track of what's happening with each vendor and to figure out where to point the blame if something goes wrong. Without having all the services coming from a single vendor, the result is shorter contract cycles and more vendors, according to Peter Yates, CTO of HP Enterprise Services.

This is where HP's MSI Service comes in, Yates said. HP isn't necessarily working as the primary contractor for a business' services, but instead offers enterprises a single service integration and management layer. HP will manage the collaboration between service vendors, quickly resolve problems and help create workflow process improvements.

If there is an interruption in service, HP's MSI Service kicks in with diagnostics, accountability and restoration services. HP will give businesses reports on how the service providers are performing, and can help CIOs "knit together" the enterprise's services landscape.

The service is aimed primarily at HP's largest enterprise customers, Yates said. Such large businesses can have contracts with dozens of service suppliers, which only kicks up the complexity in an enterprise's IT infrastructure.

"We do see this as an emerging space in the industry," he said.

Customers will see benefits in several areas, including reduced services management costs and efforts, which will give IT staffs more time to work on projects that create value for the company, Yates said.

"Customers no longer need someone [in-house] to manage the widgets," HP's Taylor said. "They need someone to ... manage the services."

These services are not new to HP, Yates and Taylor said. In companies where HP is essentially the prime contractor-finding other service suppliers and putting those services in place for the customer-HP offers the same sort of over-arching services management capabilities. In addition, HP has been offering these MSI services several companies already. The MSI Service offering is the formalization of such offerings.

The service will be available worldwide Aug. 31 and will be priced according to the services needed.