Compiled By Dave Schafer The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies (Shell) and IBM have signed a five-year alliance agreement in support of Shell's creation of three worldwide hubs to standardize and consolidate its IT applications infrastructure. Shell's MegaCentre is a large-scale, global IT application-hosting environment that will be consolidated at three regional hubs: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; The Hague, Netherlands; and Houston. It will initially provide infrastructure for SAP and e-business solutions. A single-source arrangement has been agreed upon with IBM as the prime supplier of hardware for the MegaCentre. The five-year global agreement includes IBM provisioning of IBM eServer systems, Enterprise Storage Server, tape drives and libraries, Storage Area Network switches, storage management software from Tivoli, and related technology. Shell says the key objectives of this undertaking include substantial reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO) and the establishment of a harmonized infrastructure platform to accelerate deployment of e-business applications. "We were looking for a trusted technology partner to help us achieve aggressive TCO targets in our MegaCentre project, one of the most important IT initiatives in Shell's history," says Alan Matula, general manager, Shell. "IBM is well positioned to help Shell maximize return on investment." Earlier this year the two companies announced they were collaborating on deployment of the world's most powerful Linux supercomputer for seismic research. Shell officials expect the value of this new agreement to exceed US$100 million.