IBM has expanded its program to help software vendors move their applications into a hosted environment, as a growing number of independent software vendors become interested in taking advantage of Big Blue's resources to help them become application service providers (ASP).
IBM is adding an online assessment tool, Linux support and a second competency centre for IBM non-uniform access memory (NUMA) systems to its ASP Prime Program.
IBM launched ASP Prime in 1999 as a way to provide education, application evaluation, technical support and consulting services to businesses planning to move into the ASP market. Those businesses also get the benefit of the IBM name in marketing their services. In return, participants in the ASP Prime program must use IBM infrastructure to host the software.
IBM officials say that instead of competing with ASPs, they want to provide the infrastructure to help the market grow. "We're really trying to move along the business model," says Jill Kanatzar, manager of ASP Prime.
Brett Boston, CEO of Antheum, an ASP that delivers hosted plug-and-play e-commerce platforms, says the testing and other resources made available to his small company through the ASP Prime program have allowed it to compete on a higher level more quickly.
"The credibility is just invaluable to a start-up business," he says, "to have the (IBM) stamp of approval and this many resources tossed at it."
Discussions have changed with corporate buyers, Boston says. "It's no longer a question of what if your software doesn't work, or what if your software doesn't do what it says it's going to do -- just to be able to eliminate that objection is invaluable."
ASP Prime's new features are:
ASP Prime Online: A Web-based self-service that lets application developers quickly assess their business and technical readiness to launch an ASP product.
Extended Linux Support: Linux developers will have access to the same support as those working on Windows and AIX, IBM's version of Unix.
Competency Center for IBM NUMA Systems: As part of its joint effort with Intel, IBM is adding a competency center supporting its NUMA-Q line of Intel servers at its ASP Prime center in Hursley, England. NUMA systems and support are currently available at the ASP Prime center in Beaverton, Ore.