IBM offers managed services on-site

IBM today launched a service designed to manage Web servers that are located on-site. As part of the new offering, called...

IBM today launched a service designed to manage Web servers that are located on-site. As part of the new offering, called Services Anywhere, IBM will remotely deliver a variety of managed security, monitoring and storage services.

Managed services are usually offered to companies that keep their Web servers hosted externally at the location of the services provider.

Services Anywhere is aimed at companies that are interested in the services, but want to keep their servers on their own premises; or companies that have their servers located externally in rented space at so-called "colocation" centres, said Stuart Bean, director of e-business hosting at IBM Global Services.

IBM decided to offer Services Anywhere as an option to its more encompassing and fully managed hosting offerings, which involve having the customers' systems at IBM facilities, Bean said.

"We feel it's a good win-win option for clients caught in the middle," interested in the services but not in moving out the servers, he added.

Services Anywhere is aimed at companies with an installed base of between 30 and 1,000 Web servers.

To provide the services remotely, IBM will build a remote operations console at the customer's site that links the servers and IBM's central management facility via a virtual private network (VPN) connection.

Services Anywhere is available in the US, Canada and Latin America, and will be available in Europe and Asia Pacific in July. Prices for the service vary, but should average $25,000 per month, according to Bean.

Analysts said that IBM would rather stick to its more traditional hosting services in which it manages customers' Web servers in its own facilities and that customer demand had pushed IBM into launching the service.

"IBM has put together this package to let customers know IBM is not forcing them into the IBM datacentre," said IDC analyst David Tapper. "It's an IBM response to customer demand and concerns."

Demand is coming from customers that had their Web servers hosted off-site only to have to bring them back in-house after their hosting provider folded or got into a precarious financial situation, according to analysts. Those companies are often unwilling to move the Web servers out again, but still need the managed services.

Other companies that may be interested in this approach are those that are concerned about security, such as the financial, insurance and government sectors.

A downside to the Services Anywhere offering is that IBM may be unable or unwilling to offer the types of service level agreements (SLAs) it offers when it hosts the servers at its own facilities, since in this case it has more limited control over the system, analysts said.

IBM's Bean said that the basic Services Anywhere package does not include an SLA, but it can be added if the customer pays extra for it.

Services available as part of this offering include:
  • security services, including firewall management, intrusion detection, vulnerability scanning and virus alerts;
  • performance services, such as load balancing and content caching;
  • application support services, including database and middleware support;
  • basic and advanced network and systems monitoring services;
  • storage services, such as back-up and restoration.
  • Virtela Communications will provide the VPN connection between IBM and its customers in the US IBM will partner with other VPN providers outside the US

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