Hewlett-Packard has radically adjusted its software deployment policy after last week signing a deal with developer Open Software Associates (OSA) to offer customers personalised PCs.
Rather than buying a pre-configured PC, OSA's NetDeploy enables HP to customise each computer. "This product allows HP to install software on a PC according to each individual's need," explained John Cromie, managing director of OSA. "This product allows HP to install software on a PC according to each individual's need," explained John Cromie, managing director of OSA.
Beginning the process later this year, HP's long-term goal is to extend the technology to "all elements of the channel", offering resellers the opportunity to either have PCs configured for them or utilise NetDeploy directly.
As a result, Cromie is predicting a substantial saving for HP customers and channel partners. "The first thing the IT department does to in excess of 50 per cent of PCs that HP ships is reconfigure them," said Cromie. Yet PC vendors are still passing on the costs of purchasing and installing the software in the first place.
"By letting a customer order their PC with whatever software they want, HP and the channel can differentiate themselves. And with margins in hardware getting slimmer and slimmer this has to be a good thing."
Cromie insists that NetDeploy will create further opportunities for the channel in the form of its maintenance applications.
"Resellers can track and manage software through NetDeploy. It can suggest when upgrades are needed, when licensing contracts need to be renewed and how the software is working."
The five-year contract is a "large deal financially", according to Cromie, but more significantly it will showcase OSA's technology to an international audience.
"The real excitement in this deal lies in the strategic implications. Such a big commitment from a renowned vendor will spread the technology not only through HP's substantial organisation but through its suppliers as well."
And Cromie believes that's not too bad for a deal that came about after a chance meeting of management at an IT conference in California.
"HP almost instantly recognised that OSA could offer them a technology fit.
"They had a software deployment problem and we had a software deployment product that is really the only one on the market that can do what they wanted," Cromie claimed.
Having started life as a spin-off of HP, OSA can claim a certain cultural fit with the super vendor, something that didn't go astray when it came to crunch time.