Intel plans to use experience from a mainland pilot project to create a global market for its managed Web hosting services business. 'Based on the model we have established in China, we plan to roll out these services in North America, Europe and the rest of Asia next year,' said Dalibor Vrsalovic, president of Intel Online Services (IOS), a recently formed subsidiary of the semiconductor giant. As a managed services provider (MSP), IOS will provide second-generation Internet application hosting services. IOS provides and manages clients' facilities and networks as well as helping to buy and integrate the hardware and software necessary to run business applications. IOS officials said the system was not like typical Internet data centre operations, which mostly provided co-location services for digital information, including Web sites and specific computer programs. With managed services, an operator has its own technical and support staff to manage, maintain, and monitor a customer's computer data and applications. Co-location includes the provision of rack space, power and network connection to server computers placed by customer organisations in the data centre. Last year, IOS launched more than 10 Internet data centres, including facilities in the United States, Australia, Britain, India, Japan and South Korea. It also earmarked US$1 billion in investments this year to build and outfit its global network of data centres. But Mr Vrsalovic said IOS planned to expand its business, which is expected to grow 140 per cent this year, by focusing on alliances with existing data centre operators and using Intel's new Open Control technology. 'With Open Control technology, customers and system integrators share in the management and control of e-business solutions, whether they are located in an IOS data centre, a customer data centre or a third-party facility,' Mr Vrsalovic said. The new technology has been in development for several years. It includes a controller that allows hardware, operating system, applications, storage and network infrastructure to be managed as a single unit called a 'customer pod'. IOS manages operation of that pod and works with the customer to automate routine administrative tasks, such as repair, troubleshooting and server provisioning. By using the controller through a secure Web portal, customers can view the status of their services and manage tasks. 'Enterprise customers have varying levels of information technology experience and want to outsource a range of e-business integration, operations and management capabilities without losing control of their business,' Mr Vrsalovic said. 'Our automation technology alleviates those fears by putting control back into the hands of the customer without compromising reliability or performance.' Intel's Open Control technology, which is being tested by several customers, is a key element in the company's AppChoice managed services to be available in the first half of next year. 'We don't intend to be a full services provider like IBM or EDS as we see plenty of opportunities in this segment of the IT services market and in partnerships with data service providers like Beijing Telecom in China and UUNet in Australia,' said Ben Joseph, IOS director of Asia-Pacific sales. In October last year, Intel became the first multinational company to provide data hosting services in the mainland through its partnership with Beijing Telecom, an affiliate of China Telecom. The two companies have been providing services such as co-location hosting, supported by significant bandwidth access, and related services such as customer integration and technical training. 'To date, Beijing Telecom has about 50 per cent of all co-location business in China,' said Joseph Zheng, IOS manager for Greater China. According to market research firm Cahners In-Stat Group, Internet data centre operations give traditional communications carriers the chance to offer new services to data networking customers. The benefits of outsourcing data hosting operations for most companies included reduced in-house IT staff and data centre requirements, reduced capital and operations costs by taking advantage of service provider economies of scale, and quality-of-service guarantees on Web sites, applications availability and performance, In-Stat said.