Compaq recently formed an Internet Service Solutions division but so far has kept quiet about its specific intentions for the Internet access and telecommunications market. However, in the coming months, the division is expected to become decidedly more high-profile as it announces new products and strategies oriented around delivering servers, software, and services to ISPs in "the cloud," said George Favaloro, director of strategy and business development at Compaq's Internet Service Solutions division.
The cloud refers to service providers outside a company's internal firewall. In addition to simple Net access, companies are now starting to sign contracts with their ISPs for all kinds of services, such as videoconferencing.
"Do I want video to stream off my server or do I want it to be done by an ISP? We have found that companies will buy a lot of services from the cloud," Favaloro said.
Favaloro said Compaq research indicates that outsourcing arrangements are significantly less expensive than in-house implementations, and the company expects to start tapping into into a rapidly growing market. As the demand for these services grows, Compaq wants to be among the leading vendors for the extra hardware such services demand.
"The comfort feeling is high [for Compaq servers] when we go to ISPs," Favaloro said. He added that many of these companies are already using Compaq servers.
The company hasn't nailed down all of its plans for catering to this market, but Favaloro said one possibility is building a business to supply Web server farms, a collection of servers working together. Compaq would also help with "the nitty-gritty work of integrating software and hardware," Favaloro said. This might include improving and debugging the software to run on Compaq servers.
Compaq is already supplying servers to Digex, a major ISP. Digex has placed the largest order for internet server equipment that Compaq has ever received from an ISP, according to Digex. Digex hosts a large Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 web farm.
On the client side, Favaloro said Compaq is also planning to offer everyday services that are already available, but not necessarily on the Internet, such faxing over the Net. The company is also exploring the development of powerful client-side videoconferencing workstations.