IBM forges ahead with hosting centre services

IBM is gearing up to execute the next phase of its e-business on-demand initiative through its joint venture Dubai Internet City (DIC) e-hosting centre.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  December 29, 2002

|~||~||~|IBM is gearing up to execute the next phase of its e-business on-demand initiative through its joint venture Dubai Internet City (DIC) e-hosting centre. The centre, which has been open for over six months, has primarily been delivering web hosting and co-location services, but Big Blue is keen to move this momentum towards application service provision (ASP) and, ultimately, a full scale utility computing model.

“We see Dubai and the Middle East as a major opportunity to deliver these on-demand type services. We see a lot of customers that have a major interest in getting their IT provided over a network from a central data centre and getting it delivered in utility type models,” comments Tjeerd Van Wieren, director of e-business, hosting services, IBM, Europe, Middle East & Africa.

“We will start to leverage the Dubai hosting centre to deliver more and more services over the network to clients and we envisage moving fairly quickly to an on demand model where users pay as they go or pay for what they use,” he predicts.

The next set of services that IBM is keen to deliver is application hosting services. While Big Blue will continue to strengthen and broaden its existing range of infrastructure services, the vendor is already sourcing regional partners to consolidate its plans.

“The infrastructure portfolio is already fairly strong and that is just going to involve fine tuning as we move forward,” says Van Wieren. “We’ve got the infrastructure services in place now and increasingly we will look at expanding into application hosting and application services, which we will do in close co-operation with the relevant partners, integrators and ISVs,” he adds.

These partners will range from leading names in the ERP and CRM sectors to smaller players that offer customised solutions in the local market.

“We look at the horizontal applications — SAP, Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards — but that’s something we drive on a global basis and we develop these offerings for the Middle East and work with their local offices,” explains Van Wieren.

“But what is also important is the industry specific and geography specific applications and that is what we are looking into now — the local players, integrators and ISVs,” he adds.

Although Van Wieren says there has been a great deal of local interest in the hosting centre, customers have primarily focused on co-location services with many enterprises relocating their web sites from the US or Europe.

“We see a lot of demand in the market place. There is clearly some education that has to take place and it [the Middle East market] is in a different stage of maturity compared to Europe,” he says.

“What we see is a lot of companies that did their hosting in the US or Europe coming to us because they want to relocate back into the region. This clearly shows that there is now a good alternative and people are taking that on board,” continues Van Wieren.

IBM’s focus in the region so far has remained largely centred around Dubai and the Emirates because of the centre’s location. However, Van Wieren says that current interest is pushing plans further a field.

“The initial focus is obviously around Dubai because it’s close to home and a good place to start. We are then expanding into different countries around the Emirates, and there are lots of local companies and international companies with offices in the region that are showing a lot of interest,” he claims.

Although IBM intends to take a more regional approach with its hosting services, the vendor does not have any current plans to invest in further e-hosting facilities in the region, or enter into any other partnerships similar to the one with DIC.

“We have set it [the DIC centre] up as a regional centre and we are very much committed to driving up the business based on the investments we have done there. However, we always look for options and alternatives for expanding into other areas… never say never,” comments Van Wieren.

While the ASP model looks set to drive IBM’s strategy for the foreseeable future, Big Blue is also priming the market to deliver its e-business on demand model, which incorporates everything from Linux to storage and security.

“As we start to execute more and more of our e-business on demand strategy we will introduce more and more utility type services — that’s going to be things like Linux and managed storage,” confirms Van Wieren.||**||

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