Compaq, Disney Strike Technology Deal - InformationWeek

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Compaq, Disney Strike Technology Deal

One of Compaq's biggest customers is a real Mickey Mouse operation, and officials at the PC and server maker couldn't be happier. Under a far-reaching three-year technology and marketing deal valued at more than $100 million, Compaq on Thursday became the preferred technology supplier to Walt Disney Internet Group, which includes ABCNews.com, ABC.com, and ESPN.com and collectively receives nearly 2 billion page views per month. At the same time, Compaq says it's making "a substantial commitment" to advertise on Disney Web sites.

As part of the multifaceted arrangement, Disney will consolidate its server architecture onto Compaq ProLiant Windows-based servers and use a range of Compaq services, while Compaq will prominently display links to Disney sites on the desktop of its Presario PCs. "It's a great example of how we can leverage our whole organization from top to bottom," Compaq executive VP Mike Winkler says.

The Disney Internet Group plans to consolidate multiple data centers into two main sites driven by Windows 2000 and NT servers. The company uses a mix of Windows and Unix servers, including systems from Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard.

Observers say the deal indicates Compaq is looking to gain a competitive edge by creating greater synergies between its consumer and enterprise businesses. "There's no way Sun could have countered because this deal goes far beyond the IT products," says Lindy Lesperance, a Technology Business Research analyst. But Lesperance cautions that such arrangements risk alienating IT staffers on the user side. "The question of whose products to use is no longer just a technology decision because there are multiple agendas at work." For their part, IT officials at Disney say the decision was driven by technological concerns. "This deal was absolutely, positively not shoved down my throat," says Stuart McKee, VP for global Internet operations at Walt Disney Internet Group.

Compaq officials note that Disney had been using Compaq systems before the deal. Says Phil Wood, Disney alliance director at Compaq, "This would not have come together if Disney did not have full faith in our products and the Windows architecture."

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