Hewlett-Packard next week plans to unveil a mammoth cross-country web portal and hosting strategy that the company hopes will drive the creation of a $US100 billion services market that HP has set its sights on dominating, according to sources close to the company.
HP CEO Carly Fiorina will present the new initiative in an event scheduled to take place in San Francisco. Fiorina is expected to outline what HP is terming an "ecosystem", which will be the culmination of several previously announced web-oriented HP programs.
The resulting initiative will provide a "one-stop web hosting service", maintain a variety of HP applications in an ASP (application service provider) model, provide advertising services, and offer the freedom to choose from a wide range of third-party vendor applications as well as a slew of ebusiness services, according to Adam Karol, an operations director at Consonus, an ebusiness management company that will be responsible for the hosting and management of the HP plan.
"(HP has) been working on this thing for over a year, and the other stuff like Infrastructure-On-Tap and the HP Garage Program were just extensions of this. But those releases came out first, so everything was backwards," Karol said.
The technological fabric of the initiative will allow for a "global directory for vendors to find each other", Karol said. For example, "if you want to find a plumber, you make a request and it has subsets of directories of services and all the plumbers' websites in the world", he said.
Information from transactions will be dynamically updated through XML-type data transfers, although Karol stressed that the HP initiative is not truly XML-based, but resembles XML in the sense that the properties of the network will allow for "trading descriptions of data".
Based on HP-UX architecture, customers will have the option of Windows NT as an operating system. Powered primarily by HP servers, the back-end web farm will provide exclusive subscription-based and shared-hosting services.
Karol said that Consonus has engineered "nodes" for the addition of third-party solutions, including "every Oracle solution"; banking and financial services, including those from FSPNetworks, an HP-backed Web portal company; and technology from EveryPath, which renders websites for wireless applications.
"What (HP is) trying to do is target the high-end transaction engines," said Karol. "But (Consonus) specialises in custom development applications, so customers have lots of choices."
"HP is trying to reinvent itself in the same way other companies are trying," said Sam Albert, an independent industry analyst. "And the key word is integration. It's only the company that will be able to integrate a wide range of services that will win this ball game."