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HP has been surveying its own customers to find pain points and hone sales pitches, and 38 per cent of the companies polled said that they believe the current economic climate is an opportunity to restructure and refocus their IT departments. Some 56 per cent of its customers are doing server consolidation and 49 per cent are looking at virtualization for servers and storage as a means to cut costs, says Nelson.

Another 50 per cent of the data centers polled by HP are looking at application modernization, and 40 per cent are looking at automating more of their data center operations. (She says that HP can pitch its various OpsWare, Mercury, and OpenView tools to get a return on investment of around six months for these tools). About a fifth of the HP shops who have IBM mainframes said they were interested in moving off these machines to other, cheaper iron. Companies are not locking down their data centers so much as looking at what they can throw overboard so they can move in lighter winds.

Because times are tough and attention spans are short, HP knows it has to move in quick, show companies what to do, and make a fast return on investment. The mantra of the TSG sales force this year will be "standardize, optimize, automate, prioritize, and finance."

Standardization is not new, of course, but it is hard to make stick in data centers where disparate gear seems to pop up like mushrooms and other fungi on the forest floor. But that is the first thing HP will try to convince companies to do - get rid of other iron and simplify their server and storage setups. (HP tried to bolt its new EVA6400 and EVA8400 disk array announcements onto these services offerings, but El Reg didn't fall for it and has provided separate coverage of these hardware products). The optimization part of the sales pitch is to start using server and storage virtualization to drive up the utilization on the iron already in the data center or new iron that is more virtualization-friendly that is brought in to replace the existing iron.

The automation pitch, as mentioned above, is based on a mix of tools and is really aimed at high-end customers using the mix of software project and IT portfolio management tools that HP has created from various sources (and that are used at hundreds of large organizations today). Nelson says that on average, the customers using these tools have been able to shave 6.5 per cent off their IT budgets simply by better automating their data centers.

The prioritization pitch is about HP helping customers figure out where to start doing something as well as allowing customers to pick different service level agreements for application management or outsource services that come through EDS. HP Services is offering one- or two-day services engagements that bring in HP techs to figure out where a customer can get the best bang for the buck to start a server consolidation or virtualization project, for instance.

Application Management Services from EDS is now offering multiple tiers of services, and if customers are willing to accept some downtime for those services, they can chop their bill by as much as 40 per cent. The idea is to provide five-nines availability for truly mission critical applications, but to honestly assess what applications are merely vital and can be put on, for instance, on systems that are not clustered for high availability but are nonetheless on reliable machines that do not tend to fail anyway.

In a similar vein, HP Services is offering multi-tiered, hybrid data center design services that help customers to shape the layout and construction of data centers to reflect the different levels of availability that applications need. Making the entire data center double or triple redundant may be nice, but it may also be very expensive. HP says that by rejiggering data centers to provide different service levels for the gear running in them, it can shave data center capital costs by 15 to 25 per cent. ®

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