Electronic Data Systems is building on a business deal with Loudcloud by offering an automated application and Web hosting service to enterprise clients.

The outsourcing giant said Tuesday it will guarantee hosting clients 100 per cent

available for Web sites and a time-to-repair commitment that could be 15 minutes for redundant systems.

EDS paid US$63.5 million for Loudcloud’s managed hosting business last June. It also agreed to license Loudcloud’s Opsware software for a total of US$52 million over three years. Opsware automates data centre tasks like operating systems and application provisioning.

Larry Lozon, EDS’s global service executive for Web hosting and application hosting at its Plano, Tex. headquarters, said the Opsware spurred EDS to offer a more formal service around the Web hosting it already performs for some of its customers. The automation capabilities of the software will allow the outsourcer to move beyond the hosting provider industry’s traditional guarantee of 99.999 per cent uptime.

EDS will likely compete with companies like IBM and its Global Services unit, which also offers application and Web hosting for a number of enterprises like Canadian Tire. Lozon said one of EDS’s advantage is its track record in the service business and its durability despite tough economic times.

“”We’re not going anywhere; we’re going to be right here,”” he said, adding that EDS could provide a fallback position for what he called “”stranded”” clients who were left mulling their options as WorldCom struggles for financial survival. “”To a client who’s gone through an experience like that, that’s probably one of the big differentiators.””

Toronto-based Q9 Networks also offers dedicated Web hosting, but CEO Osama Arafat said his firm specialized in providing infrastructure components like firewalls, tape backup and Internet connectivity while leaving the clients responsible for the applications.

“”We will overlap,”” he said, “”but I think their preference is to stay in the full outsourcing side . . . they want to do the $10 billion, 10-year deal with the government.””

Jason Bremner, an analyst with IDC Canada in Toronto, agreed. “”They’re not going to be going after 5,000 new clients, and they’re not going to be doing shared hosting in terms of simple storefronts,”” he said. “”They want extremely high levels of uptime requirements, lots of transaction processing capabilities. They can credibly say they do that.””

Lozon said EDS was already prepared to offer Web and application hosting to Canadian clients today, but a more formal rollout of the service here has yet to be scheduled. While some hosting may happen at the company’s United States facilities, Canadian customers may be hosted at EDS data centres in Toron

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