Dell, HP Take ASP Approach to Management

Two of the leading PC manufacturers, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Computer Corp., are gearing up efforts to launch portal sites that will automate many of the tasks associated with managing PCs.

As part of its E-Services push, HP officials said they plan to launch a portal site this fall that will be based on an ASP (application service provider) model. That platform, which will use technology from vJungle Inc., a Bellevue, Wash.-based ASP, will deliver a variety of services using technology from HP and from companies such as Motive Communications Inc., in Austin, Texas; Intraware Inc., in Orinda, Calif.; and FusionOne Inc., in San Jose, Calif.

The HP effort follows on the heels of an ongoing initiative from Dell called Resolution Assistant.

The initiative was launched in August of 1999 as an effort to increase online customer support, but Round Rock, Texas-based Dell is now in the process of adding e-support across all of its product lines, according to a Dell representative. By early 2001, Dell will offer Resolution Assistant on its corporate line of Latitude and Inspiron PCs.

Shortly after that, Dell will institute security capabilities in the form of "corporate tiering" that routes requests to an internal help desk for review before transmitting any data outside the corporate firewall to the Resolution Assistant portal, the Dell representative said.

Like HP, Dell relies heavily on technologies developed by Motive and similar companies that allow IT managers to more easily manage applications that are running live on a user's PC.

And this week Motive will introduce two new products, Motive Chorus and Motive Insight, which work together to provide online, real-time service networks and expert collaboration both within and outside an enterprise.

"Finding help when you need it can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. So we don't build better haystacks, we build better metal detectors," said Karen Kattawar, a product marketing manager at Motive.

According to Tony Adams, a senior analyst at Gartner Group Inc., in Stamford, Conn., the entry of companies such as HP and Dell into a space already being targeted by smaller ASPs will promote vendor collaboration.

"As a problem moves from vendor to vendor, accountability is lost. Vendors don't cooperate, because often they are competitors. [Portals] remove the pain that vendors feel cooperating with one another," Adams said.

However, Adams added that such portals will have the greatest appeal with smaller companies, while larger ones may be leery of handing over control of their system to a third party.

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