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IBM Expands On-Demand Services

Virtual Server hosting service includes Intel- and RISC-based systems.

IBM broadened its on-demand server hosting services Tuesday to include the company's entire lineup of eSeries servers, including both Intel- and RISC-based systems. This new Virtual Server Service lets companies have business applications hosted on servers running the Windows, Unix, or OS/400 operating systems. IBM has offered Linux Virtual Services on its zSeries mainframes since July 2002.

IBM's on-demand server hosting services are designed to let customers add or subtract computing power and pay monthly only for what they use. IBM estimates that companies using its hosted services will spend 30% less on IT operations than if they ran comparable systems themselves.

Mobil Travel Guide, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp., is just a few weeks away from one of its busiest bunch days of the year. On Oct. 22, the company will double its capacity on an IBM zSeries mainframe running Linux in order to accommodate the anticipated traffic of Web surfers looking to access the company's annual list that rates 25,000 hotels and restaurants across the country. "This is a definite short-term bounce," says Paul Mercurio, senior VP and CIO. "We get coverage in thousands of newspapers, where the rest of the year, we don't get much attention."

Mobil Travel Guide has been subscribing to IBM's Linux Virtual Services for the past year. Mercurio agrees with IBM's assessment that the service is about 30% less expensive than if his company had to buy and maintain its own server. To publish its hotel and restaurant ratings online without "a slow response or denial of service, you'd have to get a new server and have it there all year."

Mercurio says the increased security and capacity that comes with having his database and Web site hosted by IBM Global Services will pay dividends in the future. Mobil Travel Guide in November will begin publishing a series of highly targeted travel booklets using the company's database to determine demand. "We've sliced the database and targeted 32 titles to be published for next year, without increasing the size of our staff," he says. These new books will include a guide for traveling with pets as well as several detailed guides for specific regions of the country.

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