Compaq's Web strategy - take two

Three months after first dipping its toe into the Web server space, Compaq is set to release a new range of models enabled for business transactions across the Internet.

Like the ProLiant Web servers it launched in May, the new e-commerce servers to be launched this week are bundling Compaq's hardware with Microsoft's NT Server 4.0 and Internet Information Server (IIS) 4.0 software.

But instead of using Site Server 3.0 Standard Edition, which is typically used by companies building corporate intranets, the new servers will include Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition, which enables users to establish and maintain their own electronic commerce sites.

Concurrently, Compaq is improving its channel strategy for Internet solutions.

Steve Lambley, Compaq's Internet solutions manager, acknowledges Compaq has found it hard to recruit specialists in the Internet arena to sign up as its "Compaq Specialised Associates", supplying the bundles and consultancy services to customers and other resellers, as was previously intended.

"Most resellers don't want to be identified as Internet specialists," Lambley said. "They just want to provide Web solutions as part of their business across the board."

Likewise, Lambley claims e-commerce consultants and integrators are not interested in selling hardware and software.

So to boost the uptake of its Web solutions, Compaq is working to establish a tighter network between its resellers, who it will rely on to sell its products, and e-commerce partners, who will provide the surrounding integration and service expertise.

Lambley admits the bundled Web solutions are largely a ploy to increase Compaq mindshare in the electronic commerce market and sell more ProLiant servers.

He said the bundles are most likely to suit small and medium businesses (SMBs) developing their Web sites from the ground up, and concedes Compaq will have to deliver different offerings to larger corporates to be recognised as a force in the e-commerce market.

"Basically we want to sell more [ProLiant] boxes," Lambley told ARN last week. "We know the corporates won't go for the bundled solutions because they've typically already got the software they need, so we'll be hoping to instead sell them our hardware configured to optimise Web server performance."

Lambley expects the success of the Compaq Web servers to correlate with a growth in e-commerce over the next six months, and he is planning to ship in excess of a thousand units during the next year.