Controversial startup Loudcloud has signed a deal to provide managed infrastructure for The Post Office's web services.
The deal follows last week's agreement to run internet operations for Rupert Murdoch's media empire, News International, and comes as the growing business, which attracted some $200m of initial funding, prepares for its IPO.
Loudcloud bills itself as a complete ebusiness provider, and offers a 100 per cent scheduled uptime agreement. It uses a mixture of proprietary technology and services provided by partners such as AT&T, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, EMC, Compaq and Exodus.
Tim Howes, co-founder and chief technology officer at the company, told vnunet.com: "We believe the way to solve operational problems is not to throw people at them but to develop technology to automate the process."
With the inclusion of Netscape Navigator's inventor Marc Andreessen in a high-profile management team, Loudcloud has attracted controversy for turning down clients and adopting a robust attitude towards some of its partners, such as data centre firm Exodus, which is believed to be nervous about the firm's future direction.
"Our clients want end-to-end solutions, but I wouldn't rule out offering more component-based deals in the future," said Howes. "As for turning down clients, we have to protect our bottom line. We look to sign contracts for two years and have to be sure the company will still be in existence then."
"However, we have a variety of clients, although they all tend to have large web operations. When they turn to us they're most concerned about scaling up, data transaction and security issues like disaster recovery," he added.
Analysts regard the planned IPO, touted for as early as this spring, as an indicator of how much tech stocks have regained their appeal for investors.
However, some are unimpressed by Loudcloud's new deals, pointing out that they don't make a difference to the firm's long-term financial position. The company has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars to be able to provide infrastructure services.
Howes said of these suggestions: "The best weapon we have against those comments are our satisfied customers, who spread the word for us and lead to new contracts with companies of the stature of News International and The Post Office."
He did, however, concede a point made by research group Gartner that Loudcloud had little room for error in its business plan. "I think that's a fair comment of any business in today's market," he said.
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