Vendors stress ownership cost

Many vendors at last week's FOSE trade show and exhibition in Washington, D.C. marketed their offerings, new and old, as a means for federal agencies to bring down the overall cost of owning and managing IT products.

Purchase price is still an issue, but from office software suites to servers, almost every vendor explained how their product could offer better productivity and cut maintenance and training costs, areas that make up most of the money actually spent on a product - the "total cost of ownership," or TCO.

For example, Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. announced the addition of Intel Corp.'s new 433 MHz Celeron processor to its Equium desktop line. The Celeron is a stripped-down and low-cost version of Intel's standard processor architecture, designed for users running only basic desktop applications.

The Equium desktops are designed for easy maintenance, using a single motherboard in all three models. That feature, along with its easy-open chassis, are reasons why the desktops have been recognized by the Gartner Group and International Data Corp. market research firms for having a low TCO.

"TCO is moving past being a buzzword to finally becoming reality," said Mona Pal, product manager for commercial desktop systems at Toshiba's computer systems division.

The company also announced the Magnia 5100, which comes with two Intel Xeon processors. It fills a niche between the departmental-level Magnia 5000 with dual Pentium II processors and the enterprise-level Magnia 7000 with four Pentium II Xeon processors. Toshiba found that many of its departmental customers wanted the power of the Xeon processor but did not need and often could not pay for the Magnia 7000, said Camilla Sullivan, senior product manager of server product marketing at Toshiba's computer systems division.

Hummingbird Communications Ltd. announced its Enterprise Now! solution, also aimed at lowering agencies' costs. Enterprise Now! includes the company's new enterprise client license and professional services for any of Hummingbird's connectivity products.

The ECL gives agencies more flexibility in what products are utilized on each user's system. Hummingbird's professional services include fast-track installation, management planning, customized services, engineering development and enterprise integration.

Corel Corp., which has long found itself playing second fiddle to Microsoft Corp. in the office suite arena, highlighted its WordPerfect Office 2000 suite as a lower TCO alternative to Microsoft Office. The rest of the suite - Quattro Pro, Corel Presentations and CorelCentral - are finally up to the same quality standard as WordPerfect, said Jeff Bennett, director of technical services at Corel. Corel bought WordPerfect in 1996.

The better quality, along with the company's new Premium Service, which offers agencies 24-hour support and a dedicated technician, gives agencies a cost-effective alternative, according to Georges Sabongui, vice president of North American corporate and government sales.

Xerox Corp. came to FOSE to kick off its new focus on the federal market and to showcase how its latest products, DocuShare 2.0, DigiPath and the Document Centre printer/copier/scanner/fax machine can increase agency productivity.

DocuShare, which allows users to publish documents, images, video and audio files to an intranet or the Internet, is the crown jewel of the group. Its ease of use and familiar World Wide Web browser interface cuts down significantly on training time and costs, a spokesman said.

DocuShare also increases the productivity of an entire organization, saving time by making documents available immediately to employees.

With a paper, a request for a document could take days while the request was transferred to the correct office and the document was returned to the right person, the spokesman said.

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