A world with no limits

By Mark Leon, InfoWorld |  Software

Some of the biggest names opening up an ASP shop include USi, Oracle, Qwest Cyber.Solutions, and Corio. And no standard model prevails: Each vendor has a different take on what it means to be an ASP, and where the market is going. This also means IT managers can let go of application tasks at varying degrees and for the particular applications that make the most sense to them.

Joshua Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting, in Berkeley, Calif., puts four companies in the full-service category of the ASP market: USi, Oracle, Qwest Cyber.Solutions, and Interliant. What distinguishes these from the rest, according to Greenbaum, is that each claims to "do it all."

USi offers a suite of "best-of-breed" applications running on USi data centers, deployed and managed by USi staff, including SSiebel for sales force automation and customer relationship management (CRM), PeopleSoft and Lawson Software for enterprise resource planning (ERP), and Microsoft and BroadVision for e-commerce.

Oracle, like USi, claims to be a full-service ASP. But Oracle is unique in this space because it's the only enterprise ASP that owns the applications. Customers can go to Oracle's Business OnLine (BoL) division and buy Oracle applications, running on the Oracle database, deployed by Oracle Consulting, and managed by Oracle staff outside your firewall at a data center managed by Oracle.

Qwest Cyber.Solutions, another full-service enterprise ASP, has merged a services giant with a hefty bandwidth provider to offer SAP, Siebel, and Oracle applications, says John Charters, CEO of Cyber.Solutions, in Denver.

Interliant, another full-service ASP shop, is taking direct aim at the mid-market with Pivotal and Onyx software for CRM solutions, among other services, says Jim Lidestri, president of Interliant, in Purchase, N.Y.

Most of these players own their own data centers. USi has invested heavily in building its own data centers, whereas Oracle contracts with Exodus to supply the data and networking infrastructure.

"We believe the physical infrastructure and specialized connectivity are all critical to providing robust user access," says USi CEO Chris McCleary.

"I am not terribly interested in building rooms," says Tim Chou, who took the helm at Oracle BoL, in Redwood Shores, Calif., in November. He believes that ASPs add value in the applications and services they provide.

Like Oracle, Corio is an ASP that sees little value in building data centers, according to Jonathan Lee, founder and chief strategy officer at Corio in Redwood City, Calif. Instead of investing in data centers and networking infrastructure, Corio has chosen to focus on vertical market expertise.

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