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Mon 1 Mar 2004 04:00 AM

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HP promotes standardised computing

Computing giant unveils a raft of products that push its vision of standards-based computing, which it claims saves time and money.

|~|ashman_M.jpg|~|HP’s Charles Ashman says the vendor’s growth is evidence that standardisation is the way forward. |~|HP has refreshed its 9000 server family with the introduction of its PA-8800 processor module. In addition to boosting performance and enhancing scalability, the chipset has advanced the vendor’s move towards standardising on Intel’s Itanium family as it allows users to switch between the two by simply swapping processors.

“The P8800 is the processor before last as we move towards Itanium. It has an environment that can run either a RISC [processor] or Itanium simply by changing the processor,” says Samer Karawi, product marketing manager for enterprise storage & servers at HP Middle East.

“There is yet another iteration to go, which will be the P8900, and this is due next year. In 2006 we will stop producing our own processors and move to Itanium, while supporting existing customers of course. It makes the migration to Itanium very easy,” he adds.

Concurrent to its 9000 refresh and the launch of the PA-8800 processor, HP has unveiled a raft of other products in the region. For example, it has beefed up its storage offerings with the introduction of its StorageWorks EVA3000 and EVA5000 machines, while launching a new line of tape libraries in the HP StorageWorks ESL E-Series family. Each product has been introduced with the same mantra: HP is dedicated to standards.

The computing giant is pinning its colours to standardisation for a number of reasons. Internally, such a move will allow HP to reduce its R&D costs and focus on commodity products instead, something that will allow it to centre in on the more revenue rich value added services side of its business.

“Standardising internally is helping us save costs… in the development environment because we have fewer platforms to worry about,” says Thomas Ullrich, manager for the Unix server category in Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). “Instead, we can focus on linking business and IT for our customers rather than developing new processors — we can add value to the customer and convince them that we add value so they will stay with us,” he adds.

Beyond the benefits standardisation will bring to HP’s own business, the vendor believes it is delivering on a real business need among end users. It argues that companies spend far too much time and money dealing with multiple standards from a raft of different vendors.

“Standardisation gives customers choice and also drives the price down. It will also allow users to reuse hardware to run different operating systems when they deploy new applications,” says Ullrich. “Also, with standards and openness, users can keep their costs down when they go through change,” he adds.

While Ullrich’s comments are targeted at large companies in the West, HP Middle East believes the need for standardisation is also apparent locally, especially within large enterprises that have reasonably mature computing environments.

“IT consolidation is now on the [local] agenda for the first time. There are those companies that are absolutely at the top of the pyramid that have very Western needs, such as Aramco, Etisalat and local banks, and they are looking at standardisation,” says Charles Ashman, manager of HP Middle East’s infrastructure business in the Gulf & Levant regions.

Furthermore, Ashman argues that standardisation will also appeal to those lower down the food chain as it commoditises products and makes them more affordable. “The Middle East is investing in IT at the very time that it is becoming commodoitised and there is no doubt that we are in the middle of a commoditisation [period],” he says.

Just how many local users will buy into HP’s standardisation drive remains to be seen. Possible obstacles include local organisations’ preference for lower cost one-off deals rather than long term relationships, and the fact that moving towards standards-based computing can come at a high price if users have to overhaul infrastructures from scratch.

However, while HP acknowledges that these issues exist, it is confident it can overcome them and is already boasting about its rapid growth in the server market and the number of local customers that are signing up for its server offerings.

“The true measure of this [initiative] is whether customers use it, whether it brings them benefits and whether the companies promoting this approach are growing,” says Ashman. “The answer to all of those is yes because we [HP] are the fastest growing server manufacturer worldwide by a long shot and what HP is doing is setting the market.” ||**||

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