Many big vendors have decided that the emerging application service provider (ASP) market bears watching, but they are not necessarily jumping in with both feet. As a result, they are pursuing imaginative deals with dedicated ASP start-ups that need help as they look to make it big in this new market.
A case in point is Computer Associates (CA), which would like to see Unicenter become a standard for monitoring "pay-as-you-go" applications over the Internet. Earlier this year, the company announced a strategic alliance -- and cash investment -- in Center 7, a Lindon, Utah-based ASP startup. The goal is to deliver Unicenter TNG solutions worldwide.
Cash investments are not necessarily the modus operandi for CA, which more often likes to swallow companies whole. But CA looks at the ASP firmament as a new area. "By joining forces with CA, Center 7 will be prepared to deliver the solutions needed by businesses to achieve success on the Web," said Yogesh Gupta, CA senior vice president, eBusiness Strategy.
CA does not represent the only alliances Center 7 has obtained. It has gained ASP Certification from Sun Microsystems, which is also said to sell the Center 7's ASP solutions suite. It has joint sales and marketing agreements with Broadwing and Level 3. As well, and not too surprising given Center 7's Utah location, the company is backed by Novell founder Ray Noorda's Canopy Group. Center 7 was officially launched this week.
Serious backing is required in the ASP market, where you must set up a world-class Internet operations center. Center 7 heads admit to spending $25 million on infrastructure prior to launch.
Center 7 President and CEO Kelly Phillips said the company has built a Virtual Network Operation Center (VNOC) staffed 24x7x365. Unicenter management and monitory software allows Center 7 to provide predictive failure service and correct problems before they become critical, said Phillips One of the benefits of the Center 7 approach, he said, is that customers can use advanced technology from companies such as Sun, Netscape, Oracle, CyberCash, and Computer Associates without high initial acquisition costs.
Initial targets for Center 7 are e-commerce, online storage, and -- with CA Unicenter as the crown jewel -- online enterprise management, said Phillips.
Since the first days of the ASP, "the bar has been raised," said Phillips. "The folks that have a server in the basement are not in play, as was the case in the 'first ASP wave'," he said.