Compaq, IBM to follow the services trend

As an increasing share of IT budgets appear to be swinging from hardware to services, system OEMs are offering their enterprise customers more of what they want in the form of management tools and so-called lifecycle solutions. Both Compaq and IBM are set to launch such initiatives this shortly.

In the fourth quarter Compaq plans to upgrade its Web-based workgroup management solution, Insight LC (Light Console) with push technology from BackWeb Technologies to automatically send out drivers and updates tailored to a company's particular hardware configurations.

Compaq is also in talks with a number of tools vendors to license additional technology so that the updates can be automatically deployed after hours and seamlessly installed the next day when the PC is turned back on.

"We are looking real hard to partner with someone at the same time as we launch the BackWeb technology," said Ed Reynolds, marketing director for Compaq's Solutions and Strategy division.

"A network administrator will be able to schedule a job to run at 7 pm after the end-users have gone home and silently install the driver, " Reynolds said. "When he gets in the next morning it is up and running."

Compaq will use BackWeb's Foundation application, which can deliver text, audio, video, software updates, and other multimedia electronic data using existing bandwidth. The BackWeb technology was originally developed to deliver content which Compaq modified for delivery of software packets.

The push technology Compaq will offer to its corporate customers will send the drivers directly to an IT manager's file store, according to Reynolds. Up until now, alerts were sent but file stores had to be updated manually.

As long as the file store is on the network any time there is an update to the software the BackWeb technology will push it to the file store automatically for continuous updates, Reynolds said.

"This feature will offer direct delivery of unique management agents and drivers that the IT manager is looking for," said Ray Frigo, vice president for Solutions and Strategy in Compaq's Commercial Desktop Division.

The next version of the management software will also include remote control for diagnostics, Frigo said.

Insight Manager is part of a larger Compaq PC Lifecycle Solutions initiative which offers tools for total cost of ownership assessment, network design, and other planning strategies. Other components of the initiative include Deployment strategies, Management tools, of which Insight Manager is a part and Transition strategies and services for Windows NT migration.

Separately, IBM will announce next week its IBM PC Lifecycle Care Program, which will include three components:

Designation of "workhorse" models

Notification of industry-wide technology changes Previews for key customers on upcoming IBM productsThe Workhorse program is IBM's promise to its customers that they will support and offer older hardware platforms even after the components such as processors and hard drives for example, have been replaced with newer technology.

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