Bundling makes three PC brands lowest-cost

"Not everyone is singing the same tune" in cost of ownership, said Leslie
Fiering, vice president of the Stamford, Conn., consulting company.


Speaking at Gartner's recent information technology symposium here, Fiering identified
the Desktop Management Interface-compliant PCs and servers built by Compaq Computer Corp.,
Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp. as offering lowest overall cost.


Fiering credits the companies' differentiated services for the savings.


Hewlett-Packard's OpenView and IBM's Tivoli management software are attractive to large
enterprises, she said, and Compaq's software manages its own PCs and servers effectively.


Other PC makers, Fiering said, offer "incremental value, standards compliance or
no management."


At issue are potential savings as high as 30 percent for PCs running Microsoft Windows
95, Gartner analysts said. The best-case cost for owning a fully configured Win95 client
is around $7,000 a year, and the worst-case cost is more than $13,000.


Cost is mostly attributable to labor, said Bill Rosser, a Gartner vice president and
research director. End-user operations account for 43 percent of the cost. Administration
covers 14 percent, while technical support covers 17 percent, he said.


"The worst case will get worse through 2001," Rosser said, although
organizations that manage costs well might see them dip.


Owning notebook computers costs 40 percent to 50 percent more than owning desktop PCs,
he said.


Mobile management tools are missing in action, Fiering said, and theft claims up to 10
percent of notebooks annually.


To reduce total costs, Rosser recommended setting lifecycle management plans,
simplifying vendor relationships and identifying dependencies between hardware and work
processes.


If Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and IBM succeed in positioning themselves as the top three
in lowering enterprise costs, they could recoup some of the recent federal gains enjoyed
by direct seller Dell Computer Corp.


Like Dell, Gateway 2000 Inc. and Micron Electronics Inc. of Nampa, Idaho, have had
dramatic sales growth by stressing the ability to deliver the latest technology at a low
price.


More self-managing hardware should help drive down total cost of ownership in the
future, Fiering said. For example, Compaq's Smart drives predict their own failures.


Further cost savings also would accrue from cross-platform help desk ticket formats,
self-healing hardware and self-managed audit software that runs overnight, she said.


Other companies with DMI-compliant products are Acer America Corp. of San Jose, Calif.,
Dell, Digital Equipment Corp. and Packard Bell NEC Inc.'s NEC Computer Systems Division in
Boxborough, Mass. They all provide motherboard instrumentation and bundle Intel Corp.'s
LANDesk Manager to collect data on desktop systems.


"The playing field is leveling between the standards-compliant vendors and the
incremental-value ones," Fiering said. "There's not much difference between the
two groups."


She advised organizations that are buying desktop clients to ask vendors whether they
are part of the Desktop Management Task Force, whether they can send personnel on site to
aid in deployment and whether the new hardware will work with existing software.


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