Analyst Gartner has labelled Hewlett Packard's (HP's) pay-per-use price plan as "narrow" and "less flexible than anticipated", but has grudgingly welcomed it nonetheless.
HP said on Monday that it had finally launched the new plan where customers are invoiced for a base flat fee then a usage-based sum. But in a research note published late on Tuesday, Gartner analyst Ed Cowger estimated that no more than five per cent of new orders would benefit from the change.
This is further limited in Europe as UK, German and French customers can only take the option for Superdome servers, whereas US customers can choose the usage payments for some of HP's Intel-based servers. UK, French and German customers won't have this option until later this year.
The research note said: "This initial programme offers less flexibility than anticipated and applies to a very narrow class of customers.
"HP has indicated that an average daily maximum use of 50 per cent is the point at which the pay-per-use payment stream equals that of a conventional 36-month lease for a fully configured system.
"Above 50 per cent usage, the customer pays a premium; below 50 per cent, the customer sees savings compared to a full configuration lease.
"For a utility model, most customers do not expect to incur 50 per cent of the total cost for one active processor and pay a premium for using, on average, more than 50 per cent of total system capacity.
"Gartner believes this places too much a risk on HP's customers, and that only enterprises with widely fluctuating daily, weekly or monthly workloads will see any appreciable savings from the current pay-per-use programme."
Cowger warned that not all independent software vendors had agreed to the programme and added that it lacked "planning tools for users to model best-case and worst-case cost scenarios".
However, despite the programme's shortcomings, Cowger added that "HP deserves credit for taking this important first step in usage-based pricing".
HP said it expects the option to be most attractive to companies that experience fluctuating demand, which presently require high powered machines to meet the needs of peak demand times.
The company has lost market share to IBM, Compaq, Dell and Sun Microsystems in the declining server sector over the last 12 months.
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