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The alliance between BT and HP, which was fanfared earlier this year with a huge inhouse press seminar in Venice, was supposed (at the time) to be simply a way of selling IMS (IP multimedia subsystem) to desperate mobile telcos - so it's quite a surprise to find a big contract announced with Pepsico.

Normally, a contract involving networking over MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) would be a telco story, but Pepsico has no plans to get into the telco business. It's buying networking for its international arm.

"This initiative will migrate PepsiCo International to a standardised storage and server architecture that provides capability upgrades in the areas of application management, network security, disaster recovery, asset management, and operations support. HP will use a variety of storage and server systems, tools and software to manage PepsiCo International's new data centre environment," the press release says.

It's worth noting that the story has attracted almost no widespread interest, despite its huge potential for future IT sales in all areas of computer technology and comms. What interest there has been has mostly fallen into those who see it as a BT story, and those who see HP as the prime contractor.

In fact, this could easily be just one of many huge contracts to go the way of the partnership. The size of the revenue stream is potentially colossal - multiple billions of dollars - each year. The key to it would seem to be the need for having both computer and telco expertise on hand.

For example, take MPLS - a cryptonym you won't need to explain to anybody in the telco business, but normally simple alphabet soup to engineers running LAN systems. What it is, to put it crudely and unkindly, is a way of doing all the things ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) was supposed to do. But it was originally developed by Cisco, not BT, for the purpose of solving the problems the world's telcos had in abandoning ATM.

The fact that it was used by telcos, almost exclusively, meant the computer world was very slow to realise that it is actually very useful for deploying any kind of large-scale WAN. And the fact that it works in conjunction with IMS also makes it look like a telco solution to most observers.

That probably explains why several reports based on the press release have seen it as a telco story, and focused on BT's involvement. Does it explain why those who published it as an HP story almost failed to mention BT's involvement?

Watch the BT-HP alliance. I wouldn't say that it's going to create a new world, because I don't think it will (and I have a lot of expert pundits to quote if you don't agree!) but I do think it's going to generate an awful lot of dollars for both companies over the next three years. ®

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