The inertia in the services market looks set to ease at the end of the year with an upsurge in business caused by the anticipated migration to Microsoft's Windows 2000.
Olivier Thierry, vice president of product management for NetIQ, which describes itself as a Windows 2000 upgrade specialist, said that of the 500 companies on its client list, 80 per cent are on the verge of a roll out.
This will kick-start the dormant services market, he said. "A spending boom will follow as companies start to implement Windows. These will be the early adopters. The upsurge in trade will accelerate and the end of 2001 will see a huge increase in services that will last until 2003."
At the beginning of the year, analyst Gartner advised IT managers to give Windows 2000 at least a year before they even thought about installing it across enterprises, but Thierry dismissed the warning. He said the millennium bug issue had actually primed a lot of enterprises for a successful move to Windows 2000.
"Before upgrading to Windows 2000, you need to know exactly what your hardware and software is capable of. The companies that prepared properly for the millennium will have carried out that type of audit, so they are nicely placed to upgrade," he said.
But an alternative implementation plan was offered by application service provider (ASP) Netstore. Windows 2000 may boost the services market, but it will be ASPs that are called in to manage applications like Exchange, said Alison Heath, channel development manager at Netstore. "IT managers know how painful it will be, so they will outsource the problem," she said.
But this is no time to lose faith in the Windows-driven services business, said Thierry. "Companies such as Computacenter may be facing a lull now, but that's the quiet before the storm. Services will come roaring back," he said.
However, Thierry warned that companies that have offered stock options to ensure staff loyalty may have shot themselves in the foot. "Companies give staff share options, but when that stock starts to fall, it suddenly becomes a reason to leave," he said.
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