Guest Editorial: HP’s E-Services Revolution

HP's Nick Earle, Chief Marketing Officer, Enterprise Computing

About a year ago, we at HP started to clarify our vision of where the Internet was heading. We talked with our customers – and also with other companies – to get the full spectrum of opinion. We reviewed what HP labs had to offer. And we talked to industry and Internet consultants both inside and outside HP.

We looked at what worked on the Net and what the Net’s shortcomings are. We looked at the new business models and how they’d evolve. We looked at what was preventing companies from getting the full value out of their IT investments. But most of all, our goal was to examine the next step in the logical evolution of the Net.

A central thread emerged: a world of interconnected services on the Net that we call e-services. E-business (wiring business processes) and e-commerce (selling goods and services over the Internet) paved the way. Now we believe the time is ripe for e-services for three reasons: the exchange of money is possible, information can be shared, and key business processes are available on the Net.

The next logical step is to catalyze this whole infrastructure so that it can support billions of new devices and trillions of new transactions – all communicating with one another automatically behind the scenes. This new infrastructure will become an essential part of the fabric of business and society. And it will continually grow through the mass proliferation of e-services.

So what exactly is an e-service? We define an e-service as any asset that is made available via the Net to drive new revenue streams and/or to create new efficiencies. E-services can be applications, computing resources, services, processes or information. E-services can conduct a transaction, complete a task or solve a problem. They can be used by people, applications, businesses, and even "things on the Net" – your car, your mobile phone, your pager, etc. Unlike today’s large, proprietary e-business and e-commerce systems, e-services will be highly modular and each will function as a building block for other e-services.

We see three important multibillion-dollar market opportunities made possible by the rise of e-services. The first trend is the rise of apps-on-tap. Software companies are beginning to offer their software on a pay-as-you-go basis on the Net. Rather than build out large, complex systems, you now can rent e-services that do the same job for you via the Net. This includes everything from e-mail to procurement to ERP applications.

The second trend that e-services is driving is the rise of next-generation portals, such as horizontal portals that serve specific functions like accounting or procurement, vertical portals that serve specific industries, and enterprise portals that aggregate services in new ways to gain customer loyalty or better support employees or partners.

The third trend we see is the emergence of a "dynamically brokered" e-services marketplace. To make this dynamic marketplace possible, we developed a technology called e-speak, which we see as the universal language of e-services on the Net. e-speak makes it possible for services to advertise their capabilities and interact with other e-services to complete a transaction or task on your behalf. Services can be automatically brokered, bid, and transacted on the Net, from any device.

Last December, we made our e-speak source code freely available to software developers and the public via the Internet. The response has been overwhelming. More than 1,000 software developers are working with HP to develop applications on the e-speak platform. Because of demand, we have scheduled ten e-speak developer conferences around the world in the next four months. We’re also helping our customers and partners create e-speak-enabled services so they can begin building this open services marketplace and participate in these new revenue streams.

Today, HP is turning the entire focus of our invention on the Internet. Our view is to create a world where you don’t have to work the Net; rather, the Internet works for you. We believe this will be achieved when services of all types are available via appliances of all types, running on an always-on infrastructure.

I hope you’ll enjoy browsing through this issue of HP Professional and getting a glimpse of the exciting future of the Net.

- Nick Earle, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Enterprise and Commercial Business, HP