HP Canada adopts

If your company needs the computing power of a closet-sized, super-server — but only sometimes — Hewlett-Packard wants to talk to you.

A metered service, similar to utility billing models, that lets corporate customers pay for how much computing their Superdome Unix servers actually do, rather than the number of CPUs housed in their box, is now available to HP’s Canadian customers.

“With the monthly operational costs of servers of this size, even a percentage reduction would be significant, so we can often save companies a great deal of money” said Lorne Weiner, marketing manager for Unix server solutions with Hewlett-Packard Canada Co. in Mississauga, Ont.

“With the dot-coms kind of imploding as they have over time, and people looking very hard at return on investments, and very hard at where their costs are associated, we don’t have this buffer zone of bubble money out there. People really want to have IT costs that track their revenues.”

Largely due to customer demand, usage-based pricing is an idea whose time has come, said Alan Freedman, research manager for servers and storage at Toronto-based analyst firm IDC Canada.

“HP might be first to market,” Freedman said, “but everybody has the same plan in the works. All the vendors are definitely working towards having a utility model, not only for their customer base, but also for their hosting operations.”

Given the price-cutting and margin-erosion that is starting to leak into the upper- and mid-range server market, Freedman said he fully expects pay-per-use programs to migrate downward. “It’s similar to outsourcing,” he said ” It’s really a movement that’s happening in IT.”

For now, HP’s Weiner is careful to note that usage-based pricing is not for everyone. He said only those companies that have developed the level of computing requirements to warrant a Superdome in the first place, and are at the same time anticipating large fluctuations in those requirements, would most likely be interested.

“It’s not an off-the-shelf product,” Weiner added. “If a guy just wants to buy some iron it may not necessarily be the best thing for him.”

IDC Canada in Toronto is at http://www.idc.ca Hewlett-Packard Canada Co. is at http://welcome.hp.com/country/ca/eng/welcome.htm.