If buying servers and storage are a daunting experience for small and medium businesses, then trying to figure out what services they might need - and might even be able to afford - from their platform providers is a nearly impossible task.
And that, says Hewlett-Packard, is one of the reasons why SMB shops don't buy as many services as they otherwise might. And it also keeps large enterprises from realizing they don't have to do certain kinds of integration themselves - they can leave it to HP back at the factory.
According to David Cannon, manager of data centre services at HP, the company has a catalog of hundreds of services. Buying a service is not like buying a server, where there is a price associated with each component and you can pick and choose and see what it will cost.
Services are, by necessity as well as convenience for the services providers, a bit slippery on the descriptions, the time it takes to do a service, and therefore the costs. This is anathema to SMB shops, who by their nature are stingy and self-reliant. Larger enterprises have sophisticated IT departments and often also gave a DIY attitude, and they end up doing a lot of system integration work that might otherwise be best done by HP back at the factory so systems arrive ready to run when they are delivered.
The ten HP services announced today gather up a bunch of previously independently sold services bundles that have very precise aims. None of these services are new, says Cannon, but rather are being packaged to make consumption easier for customers - and with a discount from bundling that all businesses have come to expect:
- The scale-out environment service has HP's techies back in the factory preconfigure cloud configuration, including the software stack.
- The virtualized blade deployment service migrates physical server instances to the new iron purchased and consolidates existing workloads onto virtual servers running on the new iron.
- The global standardized deployment solution takes gold images of software and has HP's factory preconfigure all the servers and storage and distribute them globally to your data centres so they can slip right into your existing networks.
- The technology catalog management and delivery service has the IT department create custom software and hardware stacks that various departments in the company can log into and acquire (provided they have budget, of course) and then have this iron shipped to them, preconfigured.
- The data centre relocation service is does just what it says - moves your data centre, and presumably does so as part of a technology refresh.
- But the tech refresh is a separate service, however, called (you guessed it) the data centre technology refresh service, which includes environmental and data migration impact assessments.
- A point of sales technology refresh service has HP come in and recommend and then install new point of sale equipment at a retail location.
- The branch office technology refresh service upgrades the servers, storage, and client terminals at branch offices.
- The software partner integration service, which integrates third party software (such as an ERP system and its databases and middleware) into an HP pre-configured server and storage setup, including hewing the software provider's best practices and reference guides and testing the configuration before shipping it out.
- Finally, there is the integrated telecom service, which helps companies pick and install voice over IP and unified communications software.
Cannon contends that companies should go for integration services, preloading software and preconfiguring iron when they are buying servers and storage from HP, to get a faster time to deployment. This being the services business, there is no price list given to the public for the ten new services announced by HP today. However, Cannon says the fees range from as low as 5 per cent of the cost of a server to maybe as much as the cost of the server.
Yes, that is a ridiculously wide and laughably unspecific range. Welcome to the services business.
These services are not just available through HP, but also through its channel partners, who get a cut of the action if they sell the services along with servers and storage.
"We are really serious about working through our partners, especially those selling to small and medium businesses," says Cannon. ®