HP Offers Infrastructure-on-Tap

Building on its efforts to become a major provider of infrastructure for e-commerce, HP has unveiled Infrastructure-on-Tap, a new service that delivers back-end infrastructure to Web-centric businesses over the Internet. With Infrastructure-on-Tap, HP has created a new business model, one in which customers simply "plug" into the infrastructure, throw the switch and start doing business. Fees are charged monthly, based on usage.

Infrastructure-on-Tap, designed, owned and operated by HP, combines HP's UNIX and Windows NT systems along with enabling software applications and database management and infrastructure systems from HP and partners like Cisco, Microsoft, Nortel Networks and Oracle. HP manages facilities and network services through alliances with wholesale service providers.

The service offers ASPs, hubs, portals, and exchanges a scalable, high availability infrastructure but requires no upfront IT investment. "Leveraging the similarities in IT architecture requirements, HP shifted the paradigm from 'you have to build it' to 'you have a choice,'" Ann Livermore president of HP's Enterprise and Commercial Business, said in a statement. "If you're a large enterprise, building your own IT infrastructure may make sense. But most B2B hubs build only because they fear a sudden rise in business could pull down their Web sites and decrease revenues. Valuable resources are used for IT infrastructures that are not fully utilized—just in case their capacity spikes periodically."

HP's initial targets for Infrastructure-on-Tap are business-to-business hubs, a lucrative market. IDC (International Data Corp.) predicts that the number of business-to-business electronic marketplaces will grow from about 1,000 today to almost 10,000 within the next 18 months.


First Customers

ERP vendor Lawson Software and IPNet Solutions, a provider of software used to create electronic trading exchanges, are HP's first customers for Infrastructure-on-Tap. Lawson is using the service to power its ijob electronic recruiting services. "We're not in the IT infrastructure business," Richard Lawson, CEO of Lawson Software, said in a statement. "I give HP my sales forecast. They power my business. I pay for it based on how much power I use. Simple."

IPNet Solutions' founder and CEO Don Willis gave similar reasons for adopting Infrastructure-on-Tap. "[Our customers'] main concern is generating revenue, not building infrastructure," Willis said. "With HP as our infrastructure backbone, our customers can remain focused on optimizing the billions of dollars in transactions that flow through their supply networks."


Making HP's Internet Utility Computing Model a Reality

With the new service, HP is delivering on its Internet utility computing model. The model is based on HP's vision of a digital information infrastructure that is so pervasive it is an integral part of daily life. According to HP, Internet utility computing will allow digital information to move as dependably water flowing from the tap or as effortlessly as electricity through a lamp. HP estimates that Internet utility computing will penetrate approximately 10 percent of the $160 billion outsourcing market by 2003.

Infrastructure-on-Tap isn't HP's first move into utility computing. In early February, the company introduced IP-Billing-on-Tap, a billing utility that delivers IT infrastructure over the Internet on a subscription or transaction basis. HP touts IP-Billing-on-Tap as a solution built on a "computing power plant," housing UNIX and Windows NT systems, the Oracle8i database, and reliability and management applications like HP MC/ServiceGuard and HP OpenView.