Outsourcers aim to aid new data center

To win business, companies offer a host of options for utility infrastructure.

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Outsourcer strategies
CSC: promotes its ability to match technology from diverse vendors with customer vusiness strategies and processes.
EDS: has created teh Agile Enterprise Architecture, a standard technology infrastructure, with the goal of enabling quicker and more cost-efficient response to enterprise customers that want new data center capabilities.
HP: focuses on its Adaptive Enterprise Strategy, which is intended to create an infrastructure that automatically changes to support business needs and changes.
IBM: promotes its Virtual Hosting outsourcing strategy, which includes virtual server, networking and infrastructure services as well as management architecture for provisioning and automating service delivery.
Unisys: aims to deliver a holistic view into the cause-and-effect relationships of business strategy, applications and IT infrastructure via its "three-dimensional visual enterprise" program.
services portfolio management at Unisys, says potential clients spend a lot of time talking about the tension between the supply side (the CIO) and the demand side (the CEO or CFO) of IT - which ultimately leads to discussions of virtualization technologies. In response, Unisys executives created what they call the "three-dimensional visible enterprise," or 3D-VE. It defines the infrastructure needed to adapt to change in real time. To that end, Unisys offers Real Time Infrastructure (RTI) solutions, which provide shared infrastructure resources that adjust to business needs.

An example is the recently introduced Business Continuance SafeGuard 30m series, which enables the automatic recovery of Microsoft clustered applications in less than 30 minutes when recovery sites are more than 186 miles apart. Future RTI solutions will include:

  • Standardization of infrastructure components for lower-cost business and IT operations.

  • Dynamic provisioning and virtualization of infrastructure resources.

  • Automation of infrastructure management to reduce costs and improve service levels.

To determine when and where to apply virtualization, the company first maps the customer's business process, using tools such as Proforma's ProVision, and then applies business activity monitoring tools to see, for instance, how many SAP transactions are being used to take new orders. Using the 3D-VE methodology, Unisys then superimposes the model created of the company's infrastructure. This helps determine whether an increase in sales orders necessitates an increase in processing capacity for handling inventory tracking, which would affect networking and server workloads.

"Instead of focusing on, 'My server hit a certain threshold so I better add more capacity,' it's driven by business activity and business process," says Marv Chartoff, Unisys' CTO of outsourcing and infrastructure service.

For server virtualization, Unisys uses VMware and Intel-based servers, such as the Unisys ES7000 server line. Its Tier-1 partners include EMC for storage and Oracle for grid computing.

Users applaud the use of virtualization."Unisys owns the servers and other computing assets that the city of Minneapolis uses. Unisys is evolving its servers toward a more virtualized environment. That should enable us to realize greater efficiencies and deliver improved service to citizens," says Bill Beck, deputy CIO, city of Minneapolis (see related story ).

Unisys also considers security one of its strong points, given its event and correlation engine. The engine collects incident data from multiple points on the network, puts that data into a rules engine where it's correlated and analyzed and detects breaches that otherwise might go unseen.

Beyond the products

Of course, assessing an outsourcer's technology underpinnings is only the first step in selecting which firm best suits your new data center needs. And that, experts agree, depends on which outsourcer can best match its technology to your business processes.

"The technology in this area has become almost a commodity," Kaplan says. "What the vendors are trying to differentiate on is in how they're solving customers' overall needs."

That was the major decision point for ABN AMRO. "All of the vendors have similar [product and marketing] concepts that they've demonstrated," says Tom de Swaan, CFO at ABN AMRO. "We were more concerned about how they met our needs in terms of service-level agreements and price points."

Brandel is a freelance writer in Newton, Mass. She can be reached at marybrandel@verizon.net.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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