Asia Online's ASP tale twist

Asia Online's ASP tale twist

In a twist on the application service provider (ASP) model, Internet service provider Asia Online will rent thin-client dedicated terminals as well as applications when it launches an ASP service here in October.

Asia Online has already broken into the ASP market in Hong Kong where its service, CenoSuite, offers desktop productivity services to the small and medium-sized business market.

The general manager of Asia Online New Zealand (formerly ICONZ), Hugh McKellar, says it will start hosting CenoSuite locally in two months, initially offering Microsoft Office. Since CenoSuite, running on Citrix's MetaFrame, emulates a Windows 2000 environment, users will be spared the need to upgrade their operating suite to Windows 2000 in order to run the latest version of office, says McKellar.

Pricing has not yet been worked out but in Hong Kong CenoSuite is charging customers a flat monthly fee of $HK400 ($US51) a user for the Office 2000 service. That compares to Telecom-EDS-Microsoft venture esolutions, which last week offered Microsoft Office and Exchange and security services for ($US70) per user per month.

CenoSuite will also offer other products and is talking to software suppliers in the areas of accounting, human resources, management, enterprise resource planning, CRM and e-commerce.

Apart from applications Asia Online will also rent out a thin-client appliance dubbed CenoStation. Produced by X-terminal manufacturer Wyse Technology, the appliance will act as a set-top box accessing the ASP via an Internet connection and dedicated to running CenoSuite applications.

In Hong Kong, CenoStation, equipped with a built-in modem, fast ethernet connection, sound ports, keyboard, mouse and 15-inch monitor, rents for $HK600 per month. In a third option, the ISP will also rent out and support Dell PCs as part of the package.

The CenoStation offering, which will be cheaper than the PC option, will dramatically lower the total cost of ownership, says McKellar.

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