Hewlett Packard will provide corporate customers with a single Website from which they can purchase a range of hardware and services, including the vendor's 9000 Unix servers.
The site, called Electronic Solutions.Now (ESN), is aimed at the company's top 1,000 to 1,500 customers and will enable them to view product information and buy products and services from HP and some of its partners. The vendor said 430 customers are already using the service, 200 of which are located in Europe.
But in an attempt to placate the channel, the PCs will be fulfilled by partners, despite the fact that the customers have ordered them from the Website.
Stephen Hamilton, worldwide marketing services manager for the enterprise accounts division at HP, claimed: 'We're really not trying to change the whole business model.' He added that the channel would be able to access the site and 3,000 Vars have already been linked up.
Martin Marshall, director of Zona Research's internet server service, said: 'HP is trying to create a kind of HP World mall, where you can get everything related to HP and it makes it easy for you.'
He added that the service offers more than similar sites from Dell or Compaq because it enables customers to configure their own HP 9000 machine, which has traditionally been a complex task.
Marshall also said the vendor would ultimately have to face the same challenge faced by Compaq, whose channel partners have reacted unfavourably to their online ventures.
'HP is being very careful not to disintermediate its own channel partners right now, but at some point the company is going to have to face that dilemma,' he added.
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