Lotus Development has released several of its business applications for license by application service providers (ASPs), as well as announcing new software tools targeted specifically for use by ASPs.
Lotus has released the "ASP Solution Pack", designed to assist service providers in customising Lotus software for the SME market. According to US reports, service providers can now offer Notes, Domino Workflow, Quickplace, Sametime, Learning Space, Domino Mobile Services and SmartSuite under ASP licensing.
Worldwide, Lotus' ASP partners total in excess of 100, while ARN has learnt that the Australian ASP partners include Telstra, Solution 6, Looksmart, Com Tech, Information System Works (ISW), Chariot, eGlobal and ITSmart. There is also a second large telco currently in negotiation with Lotus.
Angel Ioannou, telco and ISP alliance manager for Lotus Australia/New Zealand, said the main aim of the strategy was to make it easier for ASPs to add and manage Lotus applications.
"The challenge for the ASP is to manage the cost of the delivery so it is cost-effective enough to serve the SME market," he said. "What we've developed is a platform targeted to ASPs that gives them the ability to manage and track the usage of the applications they are offering. Service-level agreements will be the key to differentiating ASPs," he said. "These services help ASPs keep a handle at the management level."
Lotus had previously toyed with the idea of gaining new markets through application service provision and offered a smaller-scaled agreement with its Domino Instant Host scheme. This latest announcement, on the other hand, is a full-blown commitment to licensing using the ASP model, and providing services that make the ASP offering easier to manage.
"This is an evolution from Domino Instant Host; in a crude sense you could even call it version two," said Ioannou. "Domino Instant Host only worked with Domino's messaging and calendar applications, whereas now we've added the likes of Lotus Websphere, Sametime and Quickplace solutions."
Ioannou believes the large proportion of small-to-medium sized businesses in Australia will prove an ideal testing ground for the decision.
"In terms of reaching SMEs, the ASP model is ideally suited," he said. "They need to get started quick and don't want to invest all their capital in IT."
Lotus is offering a number of licence options that are tailored specifically to the ASP model. In some cases, ASPs are being offered a licensing model that is success-based.
"We can see that the ASP model is evolving," he said, "but not as fast as was first predicted. People are only just starting to see the potential. If I was an SME, I'd want it across the board.
"The real winners in the ASP market will be those who have all the applications you could want. The ones that will thrive will be the one-stop shops."