In search of ASP dot-com dollars

A new venture between Australian-based systems integrator BDO Synergy IT and an American networking company specialising in education, The, extends the reach of applica-tion service provider (ASP) technology to the small business and education sectors.

The two organisations have launched a spin-off company,, which will deliver solutions to small businesses and educational institutions via the ASP model.

"ASPs have been part of BDO's business for over a year," Craig Hawkins, managing director of BDO Synergy IT, said. "The reasons for launching as a separate company are to promote it as a stand-alone entity and because we are interested in attracting a third partner. In an ideal world that would be a company with a channel background that wanted a sales focus."

The new company will be selling two products: ApplicationStation, an ASP-based office productivity product for small businesses; and LearningStation, a virtual desktop and educational portal for schools and universities. has finalised an agreement with Intercept Information Solutions, a com-pany specialising in document capture, imaging and retrieval solutions, and is negotiating with three or four other independent software vendors.

Hawkins said there had been a fair amount of interest from small businesses, and he expected the subscriber base to grow to at least 10,000 within the next three years.

Solid simple tools

"A lot of other companies are focusing on the enterprise niche," Hawkins said. "Our philosophy is that small business needs solid, simple tools that function well and add value to the organisation.

"To make it attractive to small business it will have to be affordable - no more than $300 a month and it will probably come down from that. I expect a lot of people that don't use desktop applications now will come out of the woodwork because they won't have to buy and manage a device."

Jim Pennington, vice president of The, said the LearningStation product would have 12,000 users in the US by January.

"The market is mainly kindergartens through high schools and also some universities and community colleges," Pennington said.

"It's a virtual desktop and educational portal, where you log in to access curriculum information, distance education tools and an e-library, delivered by an existing desktop or an Internet appliance."

Pennington added: "There is large potential here in Australia because of the geographic dispersal and government focus on distance learning. Schools don't get much money for IT, but this is a budget solution."

Hawkins said is currently looking for channel partners to help sell the model.

"We don't see ourselves as being the direct sales force for this because our core competency is service delivery," Hawkins said. "We plan to work with the existing channel."

Interested resellers should contact Maria Hamilton on (02) 9243 7443.