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Commentary: Compaq aims high

Compaq Computer is taking its Tandem Himalaya servers into the world of e-business and e-commerce, a major move for the company as it struggles to lift stagnant revenue growth.

By George Weiss, Gartner Analyst

Compaq Computer is taking its power-packed Tandem Himalaya servers into the world of e-business, e-commerce and retailing, a major move for the company as it struggles to lift stagnant revenue growth.

The servers--the world's most powerful and

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Compaq finds new clients for luxury servers
expensive--are front-runners for applications needing massive computing power, such as the New York Stock Exchange. But Compaq, sensing a market for new clients, is moving to broaden their appeal and model other Compaq servers on them.

The servers were developed by Tandem Computers, which was acquired by Compaq in 1997. Pursuing a concept called Zero-Latency Enterprise (ZLE), a giant Tandem server database links other databases within the enterprise and shares information in real time.

Key ZLE concepts are as follows:

• A ZLE strategy exploits the immediate exchange of information across geographical, technical and organizational boundaries to achieve business benefits.

• Latency is the time it takes for a system to respond to an input.

• The modern enterprise can be viewed as a complex system. Its divisions and departments, and even groups in external business partners, are treated as cooperating subsystems, regardless of where they are located.

• As soon as new information is captured by any application system in any workgroup, it is made available to all interested parties.

• ZLE is being implemented in a broad range of applications including airline operations, supply chain management, factory automation, credit card processing, construction project management and IT consulting.

Compaq's move does not mean that enterprises must buy new systems to take advantage of the immense computing power of the servers. The Himalaya servers are flexible and can integrate portions of crucial enterprise data into the operational database store (ODS) and work with existing systems without requiring their upgrade.

ZLE and the servers play into Compaq's strength of massive scalability and fault tolerance as well as its presence in the mission-critical environments of top blue-chip accounts.

To be successful, though, Compaq must create professional services around the concept and provide testimonials that prove its effectiveness (which it has been doing). Compaq must also ensure that enough flexibility exists for the servers to work with a mix of hardware and software from different vendors.

By using the idea of high availability and the ZLE concept, Compaq is banking on enterprises wanting real-time information sharing and a more tightly integrated business process--and that are willing to pay for it. The global model of Internet transactions and real-time responses requires the linking of critical enterprise departments and processes to succeed.

Compaq hopes that enterprises will move away from tracking market competitiveness through data warehouses (a concept based primarily on a static model) and turn to the ODS with its real-time data inputs--and use the Himalaya servers to do it.

(For related commentary on building a real-time enterprise, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

Entire contents, Copyright © 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.