The application service provider (ASP) phenomenon leaves plenty of room in the channel for both traditional resellers and new players, according to IBM's local director of commercial business, Stephanie Carullo.
"There is plenty of opportunity for both types of reseller in the ASP space," Carullo told ARN at the launch of IBM's new ASP initiative, the Service Provider Ready Program. "It enables the channel to broaden its market. In the last 12 months, there has been a more positive reaction [to ASP] from the traditional channel. ASP is a win-win situation."Under the ASP model, software applications are hosted remotely and delivered to the desktop user via a secure network line, using a rental revenue structure.
The concept of the Service Provider Ready Program is to help independent software vendors (ISVs) and software developers prepare for the booming ASP market, which is growing at a rate of 111 per cent per year, according to analyst IDC.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of an ASP announcement from Unisys (see page 16), but while that company intends to provide ASP hosting facilities, IBM does not.
"We will either work with the ISV and act as a conduit to find a hosting partner or we will help [the ISV] become the hosting organisation itself," Carullo explained.
The Service Provider Ready Program guides ISVs and developers through the business analysis and technical process of offering their software products in ASP format. The program runs in five stages: the education phase, the assessment phase, the technical phase, the hosting phase and the launch phase.
ISV Cincom Systems and ASP ApplicationStation.com are two of the first organisations to sign up for the program.
Cincom's chief executive officer, Paul Hargreaves, said his company plans to launch its customer relationship management (CRM) product Encompass in ASP format later this year, and there is room for a reseller partnership with an ASP hosting company.
"We expect double digit growth in 2001 from the initiative," Hargreaves said.
"We are launching in New Zealand at the outset, and depending on the success, will later move to Australia and the rest of the world. We haven't selected a hosting partner yet, but we plan to do so. Sale of the software would be in conjunction with the host."By contrast, ApplicationStation.com is an ASP hosting organisation which partners with software vendors of all sizes, from Microsoft through to specialised ISVs like imaging software company Intercept Information Services.
ApplicationStation.com is currently working through the Service Provider Ready Program, but the company's chief executive officer, Craig Hawkins, said the company also aspires to join IBM's Hosting Advantage Program, which IBM is expected to announce soon.
Hawkins indicated that Application Station.com is hoping to partner with traditional resellers.
"My view is to work through traditional channels. The second stage of our plans will be to go out to resellers with partnership opportunities. It's a win-win situation because we won't encroach on their traditional services and revenues, but we can perhaps help them find additional opportunities," he said.
IBM's Carullo said: "The objective of it [the Service Provider Ready Program] is to help different types of organisations take advantage of the ASP marketplace. There are different ways they can do that and they don't actually have to become an ASP themselves. It's very much about strategic alliances and everyone has a role to play."