Compaq Expands Computing on Demand Services

Compaq Global Services continued to build on its Computing on Demand services initiative with three more packaged services built around its hardware offerings.

Compaq Global Services continued to build on its Computing on Demand services initiative with three more packaged services built around its hardware offerings.

The new services are Capacity on Demand--Managed Storage Solution, Capacity on Demand for ProLiant Servers--Pay Per Use and Access on Demand--Thin Client Package.

The Computing on Demand initiative, launched last summer, is intended to give customers greater flexibility and move more risk onto Compaqs plate, according to Ray Wilkes, director of Computing on Demand in Littleton, Mass.

"We are bringing pay-per-use computing to our customer base. They get risk mitigation through this by the fact that Compaq assumes more risk in the equation than we had in the past or in comparison with our competitors. If they need to dial down at times from sustained growth, we allow them to dial back on their computing requirements."

Compaqs Computing on Demand services, which bundle together Compaq hardware devices with services, are unique among such utility computing offerings in their ability to scale down as well as up when customer requirements change, said Julie Giera, vice president and research leader for the IT Service Group at Giga Information Group, in Cambridge, Mass.

With the new storage bundle, Compaq provides storage management and capacity on a pay-per-use basis. With the service, Compaq provides remote monitoring of heterogeneous storage environments. Customers use a secure portal to view their storage infrastructure and make service requests to remote Compaq management centers.

The new Capacity on Demand for ProLiant Servers--Pay Per Use is intended to speed server deployment when demand increases, but users only have to pay for the computing resources being used. Customers can install and reserve computing power in the four-way and eight-way ProLiant servers, which provide dynamic resource scaling. The bundle includes lifecycle services.

The latest addition to the Access on Demand suite of services, which has seen the greatest reception in the market so far among the Capacity on Demand suites, adds a thin-client option to the PC and mobile computing offerings in the suite. The service is based on Compaqs Evo thin client, and it is intended for call center and other transaction-intensive applications residing on a central server. Pricing is based on a per-seat/per-month charge.

Controlling your costs

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, an early customer in the Computing on Demand program, found the flexibility and control over costs the most compelling aspects of the bundled offerings.

"This is by far the best way to go. Youre not overpaying; you can control your costs. You control everything," said David Doney, Blue Cross director of IS customer service in Detroit.

Compaq went to great lengths to win the request for proposal that Doneys organization put out. It included a joint initiative in which Blue Cross and Compaq built a staging center, dubbed Blues Park, where PCs and laptops are configured and tagged for asset management before being sent to the actual desktops where they are destined.

Such staging allows Blue Cross to continually refresh the roughly 8,000 PCs and laptops the organization has in use in 40 locations. "We had Compaq open the facility, and we paid for it in a per-seat charge." Doney said. As a non-profit organization, Blue Cross was not allowed to own the facility.

"We pay for the seats that we use," he added. "It works well for us. Others had fixed numbers you had to commit to."

Compaq provides not only the asset management, but also help desk services, deskside services and financing for Blue Cross.

That kind of flexibility is especially useful to enterprises with cyclical businesses, such as mail-order catalog companies like L.L. Bean Inc., Giera said. "Their computing requirements triple or quadruple for four months. Their choices are to buy the hardware and let it sit for months, or they can lease the hardware; hire people to install, configure, test and run it; then send it back. Companies going through mergers or acquisitions where you have to double the capacity of your IT, test both combined and keep both companies running--these kinds of offerings bundled with services are extremely attractive," she said.

But Giera sees less attraction for a broader market in the short term. Hurdles for greater market acceptance include the fact that few ISVs have "figured out how to license on a usage-based pricing model" and that the "tools required to measure, monitor and bill on a usage-based model are not yet mature," she said.

The new Capacity on Demand offerings are available now.