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Gateway services reach out to little guys

The company wants to assist small and midsize businesses with tasks such as moving servers to new operating systems.

Gateway is getting down to smaller business with an expanded suite of information technology services.

The Poway, Calif.-based company on Monday launched Gateway Professional Services, a program that offers a menu of IT services to companies with 100 or more employees.

Although Gateway may be seen by many only as a PC maker or consumer electronics manufacturer, the company has also been working to expand its line of business products. Over the last year it has added rack-mount servers and storage systems, and now it will provide services that help aide in the installation of these products and help perform other tasks.

Gateway's latest service offerings, sold under the umbrella of its Technology LifeCycle Services program, is designed to assist companies with operating system migrations, server consolidation, network assessment and design, and business continuity. Storage and security will also be addressed by Gateway Professional Services. The programs will be released this year, the company said.

"We're taking services normally reserved for large enterprises and bringing them to small and medium-sized customers as well," said a statement from Scott Weinbrandt, senior vice president of Gateway's Enterprise Systems Division. "Using standardized delivery methodologies, these services help solve many of the fundamental issues facing customers today--such as securing their networks or consolidating technology assets."

Gateway said it will start by offering an operating system migration service. The program will help companies update or streamline their IT management by moving servers from multiple operating systems to a single OS, or from an aging version of an OS to the latest iteration.

For example, a company could move its servers to Microsoft's latest Windows Server software from other OSes, or migrate from Windows or versions of Linux to SuSE Linux's Standard 8 or Enterprise 8 operating systems.

The service will also allow companies to switch to Microsoft's latest Exchange e-mail system software or help in migrating desktops and notebooks from older operating systems to Windows XP.

Gateway employees and third-parties, such as IBM Global Services, will fulfill the services contracts. Pricing will vary by an organization's size and the job's complexity. An up-front assessment will be free, a Gateway representative said.

Gateway's services cater to different kinds of businesses, but now the company will also be able to work with small and midsize businesses, the representative said.

Indeed, this market continues to gain attention from PC makers. Because they have fewer employees, small and midsize companies buy fewer PCs and consume fewer IT services than large companies. But the sheer number of small businesses amounts to a large market for companies like Hewlett-Packard, Dell, IBM and Gateway, all of which have programs focused on that market. Last year, HP said it was pouring $750 million into developing products and services into the arena.

As part of its efforts, Dell on Monday launched two servers and discussed a line of Ethernet switches aimed at small and medium-size businesses. The standalone PowerEdge 700 and the rack-mount PowerEdge 750 servers start at $699 and $949, respectively. Each machine comes with a single Intel Pentium 4 processor. Prices on the Ethernet switches will be announced later, Dell said in a statement.