Aussies join global ASP push

Aussies join global ASP push

Three Australian companies joined a total of 25 companies last week in committing to the rapidly expanding Application Service Provider (ASP) Industry Consortium.

The Consortium is set to cause a stir in the reseller community as the catalyst for a significant change in business practices, brought about by an Internet-based application delivery model.

Accounting reseller and integrator Professional Advantage, developer and services company Mincom, and accounting software developer Solution 6 are the first Australian companies to join the fold.

Solution 6's ASP services general manager, Kent Dunston, said while industry interest in the ASP movement is high, revenue predictions are still difficult to define.

While he believes the ASP market will "explode" soon, Dunston indicated sections of the IT industry are still hedging their bets on ASP.

"It's fairly safe to say that none of the software vendors have fully embraced the ASP model," he said.

Solution 6 will focus on delivering a mix of financial and "fully integrated" applications to the SMB market based on SAP R/3 templates, Lotus Notes and IBM DB2 hardware.

ASP companies are characterised by participating in the management and delivery of software applications capabilities to a variety of users across broadband networks, typically operated by carriers and ISPs.

Participants at the Consortium's Australian launch last week described it as a variation of the IT leasing or outsourcing model.

Traver Gruen-Kennedy, chairman of the Consortium and Citrix director of advanced business development, explained resellers are faced with the challenge of remoulding their businesses to compete in a marketplace rapidly converging around the ASP paradigm.

Gruen-Kennedy said that under the ASP model, resellers and distributors will typically focus on managing customer relationships, while ASPs will provide the software application delivery function via the Internet.

"I would say resellers are quite keen on this," Gruen-Kennedy said.

"The difference here [with the ASP model] is simply the delivery mechanism has changed," he said in response to ARN's suggestion that resellers may be concerned about the model.

The ASP model is pitched by the Consortium as a solution to help users overcome such IT difficulties as expensive IT entry costs and ongoing maintenance.

In addition, it offers software developers an opportunity to easily distribute applications to a wider audience.

Formed only a month ago, the Consortium has already gathered support from 50 IT channel, services and vendor companies around the world, 25 of which were announced as partners last week.

The Consortium itself is an international advocacy group formed to promote, educate and create industry standards for ASPs.

Gruen-Kennedy said the ASP Consortium is dedicated to establishing an ISO 9000-type standard so ASPs can offer a guarantee for IT products and services.

Founding members of the ASP Consortium include Cisco, Compaq, Ernst & Young, Great Plains Software, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Sharp Electronics and Wyse Technology.

EDS starts application outsourcing programby Cheri PaquetSAN FRANCISCO - Electronic Data Systems (EDS) last week announced an application-hosting service, which Internet service providers (ISPs) and phone companies can resell to their own customers.

EDS will offer the application-hosting to ISPs, who will brand and resell the services to their business customers, said Craig Dees, an EDS spokesman. Applications to be hosted by EDS include enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise e-mail, collaborative groupware and electronic commerce offerings, such as electronic trading community services, Web hosting and vertical applications.

EDS is not aware of any other company using a similar model in terms of reselling through an ISP, Dees said. This will allow ISPs and phone companies to broaden their offering to their clients, he said.

The EDS service will be powered by Hewlett-Packard hardware and software, according to Dees. EDS will operate and maintain the systems and hosted applications at its facilities, and provide infrastructure services such as billing, customer care and applications support services.

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