Amdahl to reinvent itself in e-services push

Having been regarded as a somewhat minor player in emerging services sectors, Amdahl is crafting an Internet-based electronic-services strategy that will be anchored by a distributed data management architecture.

Amdahl's first steps into the e-services arena will involve a series of alliances that will allow it to become an application service provider (ASP), said David B. Wright, president and CEO of Amdahl.

Sources close to the company said Amdahl is negotiating an alliance with Oracle in which it will offer Oracle application services running on its data centres in San Francisco and Dublin, Ireland. Amdahl also hopes to strike alliances with Bell Atlantic and Exodus to provide additional data-centre capacity, according to sources.

Amdahl says it will differentiate itself from its rivals in this space by leveraging a suite of data management tools, allowing the company to effectively police service-level agreements (SLAs), said Alan Bell, group president of Amdahl Global Solutions.

Right now most customers have no way of knowing whether the applications they paid for via the Web are actually running at any given time, Bell said. By giving customers access to a set of tools called EnView, to monitor compliance with SLAs, Amdahl expects to create a unique position for itself, he added.

At the core of the Amdahl set of tools is Star Manager, a console for managing various third-party data management utilities. Two other critical tools are Star Rise, which can index the data attributes of any operating system or application at any given time, and Star Vault, which maps the locations of different applications and data types.

Amdahl will also extend its reseller relationship with Legato Systems to include that company's entire suite of tools, and sometime next year, Amdahl will also resell Internet performance-analysis tools developed by Fujitsu, said Linda Wink, group president of Amdahl's software division. Fujitsu is the parent company of Amdahl.

The reason for Amdahl's foray into the ASP market is clear, in light of market projections. International Data Corp. (IDC) predicts that customer spending on ASP services will reach $4.5 billion in 2003, with money spent on enterprise applications increasing from about $150 million in 1999 to $2 billion in 2003.

Amdahl provides IT services for Fujitsu and already manages applications for Merrill Lynch running at data centres owned by Exodus, but the company faces stiff competition in a market also targeted by Unisys, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.

"We see everyone in the industry trying to figure out how to participate in the ASP market," said Meredith Whalen, an IDC analyst.

Although Amdahl's monitoring tools make good sense for ASPs, most IT customers have a limited need for application monitoring.

"Having access to such tools would help customers feel like they're part of the process," Whalen added.

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