IDG: EDS seems to be more visible here than ever before with a message that it's no longer hardware and software innovation, but services that are going to carry the day and enable companies to work effectively. Is the message getting across?
Brown: From everything I hear, it is getting across if you look at the record numbers of people that have come through everything we have here at Comdex, and the feedback from people when they leave after hearing our EDS people talk about our opportunities, our service offerings, the solutions we bring to business problems and government problems. I talked to some people today - "Good to see EDS back, highest profile ever, now I understand better what you do, I didn't realise you did this or that, best demonstration at Comdex" - these are things I'm hearing today, it's great.
What EDS has been saying sounds like the company promises the moon - lots of different services. Are you at all concerned that EDS could overextend itself thus make the company unable to deliver on some of the promises it makes on those broad services offered here on the stand?
That's always a risk, but we are very mindful of that. We are pushing extremely hard on this whole concept of service, excellence and thought leadership. And we believe the loudest voice in the marketplace is the referenceability voice of our existing client base. So we have got to be providing excellence to our clients because we use them as part of our sales team.
So that means you use previous customers as references?
We want that to happen. So that's why our referenceability ratings are going up on EDS across the world to record high levels and we are pushing them even higher. We have to be careful that we can actually execute well what we promise to do.
In his Comdex address, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison criticised systems integrators for doing little more than using "giant glue guns" to stick numerous software and hardware components together for their clients. He thinks companies should buy preconfigured, pretested and precertified systems that can be more easily supported, deployed and scaled. How do you respond?
The fact is that in this world of complexity and legacy systems that need to be interfaced with new systems, there is not one size or one package that fits everything, and there is a lot of customisation that has to happen in our world of IT services, and that's what EDS has done for years. We do it better than anybody else. Now, as you move down market, there are repeatable packageable solutions. But more often than not, and for the rest of my business lifetime, there will always be the need to solve unique business problems with solutions, and that's what we do well.
You've said that you see the outsourcing of IT projects as a growing business worldwide. To what extent does EDS' experience on government outsourcing projects give your company an advantage in outsourcing?
Our big government contracts are on a scale and scope that is often not even rivalled in the private sector. So it gives us that kind of experience. We can leverage our private sector successes with thought leadership and integrated solutions on the government sector. This is an industry we are in where scale and scope makes a difference. Big government contracts push a lot of folks across our networks, and we tackle the most complicated issues in government contracts in many cases, and leverage that experience across the private sector and across the world. So there is a lot to be gained.
What proportion of EDS' business is Web hosting? Is it becoming a bigger part of the company's business, and what would you say is more accurate: that EDS is keeping pace with the competition or that it is far outrunning it?
Well, we had a false start with Web hosting a couple of years ago. We should have gotten going and we didn't. Last year we got serious about fixing that. Now we have a fantastic portfolio of Web hosting capabilities. We are clearly gaining market share. We have 750 Web hosting customers. We operate in more than 140 data centres and in dozens of countries. It is not a big portion of our business today, but it's now being measured in hundreds of millions of dollars annually and growing.