EDS regroups to attack Linux, IBM in Australia

IT infrastructure services giant Electronic Data Systems Corp. has drawn a line in the sand over the way it intends to drum up new infrastructure business, with selective sourcing, open source and IBM definitely not part of the equation.

Launching the Australian arm of its Agility Alliance — a forceful combination of Cisco, Sun, Microsoft, Dell, EMC, Fuji Xerox, SAP, Siebel and Oracle — EDS claimed its beefed-up “best of breed” partnership will deliver infrastructure services customers savings of up to 20 per cent over and above its other solutions.

DS Asia Pacific vice president Phil Pryke and global vice president for Agility Alliance Rob Rasmussen said the forecast savings comprised 20 per cent throughout the lifecycle of a contract — typically between five to ten years — with an “out of the box” discount of between 10 and 12 per cent.

However the savings will only flow if current or prospective customers choose from the approved menu, a prospect unlikely to appeal to the bulk of EDS’ current Australian customers, most of whom are committed to large IBM zSeries mainframe installations.

These include the Commonwealth Bank, Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Customs Service. Asked whether zSeries customers were effectively being given a price hike of 20 per cent, Pryke responded that EDS had been contracted to maintain such installations at rates agreed to by both parties.

“We have a huge interest in customers with the zSeries. For major [zSeries] customers, there is a map going forward,” Pryke said, but refused to give details other than it would be available within six months.

Over at IBM Global Services, spokesperson Jennifer Arnold said she did not believe EDS’ latest stand would change relations between the vendors “from a hardware or software point of view”, adding further comment was difficult without first seeing EDS’ proposed roadmap.

IDC associate director for Asia Pacific services Phil Hassey was less generous. Hassey said that EDS still faced “fundamental corporate issues” and was performing below market expectations.

“IBM is the common enemy. EDS is trying to find something to dig itself out of some of its issues, especially at a global level. IBM and Accenture are moving towards business process outsourcing…but [Agility Alliance] is still very technology focused. Their strategy is not as coherent,” he said.

Hassey also noted that many of EDS’ agile partners — not least Cisco, Oracle, SAP and Siebel, were more likely to book more business through IBM than with EDS.

Not content with throwing rocks at the house of Big Blue, EDS is also turning up its nose at Linux, saying Open Source is still too risky to be invited into the fold.

According to Rasmussen, Linux has some way to go when it comes to integrating security between high end server and applications platforms. “People are not content with code that is run on an open environment. It’s when you knit [platforms and applications together], all these holes appear,” Rasmussen said.

“Our point of view on Linux…we are not as confident on Linux in the corporate environment in terms of securifying [sic] it. We are not strongly backing Linux and we are watching to see what happens.”

Another Linux issue, Rasmussen claims, is that EDS has problems with its scalability. Rather than counting how many processors the OS can run on, Rasmussen argued reliable scalability across “multiple geographies” was a more pressing concern for multinational corporations.

“Can it scale across multiple geographies? We don’t know. We know you can deploy Unix anywhere. Then there are issues with training and retraining staff, and the fact that people find out a lot of this is not free. Even if you have [Unix trained] staff, you still have to retrain them,” he said.

“We are not anti-Linux, just cautious. When you have customers like General Motors, you can’t afford to have problems,” Rasmussen said.

Asked what would be the fate of customers looking to move to Novell’s SuSE Linux based Open Enterprise OS, Rasmussen said EDS would monitor uptake with interest.

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