Enterprise network solutions provider Equant last week joined forces with Microsoft in a deal designed to leverage the emerging ASP model for its corporate customers.
Under the agreement, Equant will use its global data network to provide customers with access to Microsoft services via the corporate intranet or the Internet.
The company believes the service will benefit fast-growing companies in particular, because it negates the need for remote support staff.
"We're trying to create a situation where the network becomes the delivery mechanism of software and services," explained Beth Jackson, Equant's general manager, Australasia.
"The Microsoft arrangement is much more extensive than any relationship we have had before," she said.
Equant is establishing extranet-oriented business solution data centres ahead of its ASP launch. The centres are located in Atlanta, London and Sydney, and the company reports it is designed to provide a synchronised and mirrored ASP global data infrastructure. Equant says this infrastructure will give business any-time-zone access to business-critical production environments.
The Microsoft agreement also sees the centres house a range of Microsoft technologies.
Meanwhile, the effect of last month's deal between Cisco and IBM has raised some eyebrows at Equant.
The company is concerned that the new alliance may present worrying repercussions to its own partnership with Cisco.
The IBM and Cisco alliance poses two possible scenarios for Equant: IBM can become a fierce competitor or a great business partner, according to BG Padfield, managing director and vice president of Equant Asia-Pacific Australasia.
IBM, with its sheer size and proven business strategies, could demonstrate itself to be a formidable competitor, Padfield said, noting that Big Blue's alliance with Cisco could pose a serious challenge to Equant's existing relationship with the networking giant. Cisco is Equant's single largest partner for its integration services division.
But IBM does not have the full set of Cisco skills yet, and it would therefore make more sense for the vendor to establish a partnership with Equant, he noted, adding that his company could bring forward experience, expertise and global coverage support for Cisco's products.