Cisco Systems in the US will kick off during the next three weeks an initiative for application hosting by teaming up with enterprise software vendors, application service providers, and other partners to provide applications to enterprises.
According to partner companies and sources familiar with the plans, the Cisco Hosted Applications Initiative (CHAI) will help software vendors and service providers rent out sales automation, order processing, financial, and other applications. Cisco will help to build the infrastructure over which the applications are hosted.
Initially, the effort will be aimed at small and midsize businesses, which are seen as key markets for rented applications.
The initiative will leverage service providers' networks, software vendors' applications, and Cisco's reseller channel, according to sources.
Application hosting may offer smaller companies access to expensive, advanced business tools without the cost of purchasing software and powerful servers.
The Cisco effort to market to application service providers (ASPs) gives the networking giant a lead over its competitors, which have yet to craft such offerings, according to one ASP executive.
"Everyone has an angle, and Cisco is trying to leverage off it to sell more routers," the source said.
"For us there really aren't many options. There's only Cisco, IBM, or 3Com. So far, it's a leg-up for Cisco."
Partners in the initiative will include application vendors Great Plains, SalesLogix, and Netmosphere, as well as service providers such as Exodus.
Great Plains Software will be providing financial, order-processing, and distribution functions in its Dynamix C/S+ software through the CHAI program, according to Wayne Harding, vice president and general manager of hosting services at Great Plains.
Cisco chose Great Plains as its first enterprise resource-planning provider because of Great Plains' experience in application hosting, Harding said.
SalesLogix, a maker of sales automation software, will offer applications hosted by a major global ISP, according to a source close to the company. The services will be priced between $US100 and $200 per month, depending on the range of functions leased from SalesLogix, according to the source.