This has nothing to do with companies not understanding what it is though. Honest...
Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft plan to invest US$50 million in a joint effort to sell corporate customers on the software giant's .Net web services efforts.
HP plans to devote 3,000 consultants from its HP Services unit to the effort and also train 5,000 people in its sales and support staff.
While acknowledging that .Net is still in its early stages, HP Services chief Ann Livermore said now is the time to start selling companies on the idea of using web services to automate their businesses.
"We think the time is right from a customer perspective," Livermore said in an interview. "There are only two things (customers) talk about. The first one is cost... the second one is agility - how do they respond more quickly."
Livermore said Microsoft's approach to using the internet to automate business tasks can help businesses react faster and save money.
In addition to training its services and sales staffs on .Net, HP will also set up 160 three-person sales teams specifically focused on selling companies on using the Microsoft .Net technology.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has a 1,000 person team that will support HP and other companies that install .Net services at corporations. The two companies will also use part of the $50m to market the effort to customers.
"The investment is split pretty much down the middle," said Michael Sinneck, corporate VP of worldwide services for Microsoft. Sinneck was speaking from an Austrian castle where Microsoft is set to unveil the deal at a meeting of its partners. HP will be the first company to gain the Microsoft designation of "worldwide prime integrator," although the title is not exclusive.
Specifically, Livermore said HP will work to sell companies on using web services in four areas: collecting and analysing business-intelligence data, putting core business processes onto the internet, integrating the data stored in separate large business-software programs and using web services to help employees collaborate on projects.
An early example of the type of work HP will do is its work for General Mills. As part of a larger deal, HP helped create an automated program for the grocery goods giant that lets it gather and analyse data on how well various goods are being displayed and sold at thousands of retailers.
The company plans to develop specific programs for industries like health care, financial services and e-government.
Despite a weak market for IT spending, HP Enterprise Systems Group head Peter Blackmore said the .Net investment should pay off.
"It is clearly one of those market making moves, which in a down market is the right thing to do."
Ian Fried writes for News.com