Forget the suppliers, ASPs need to consider customers

Tech Talk

Tech Talk

Simon Moores

In most respects, the application service provider (ASP) proposition can be neatly summarised in 30 minutes or less. Why, then, is the subject being beaten to death with such enthusiasm?

The answer lies, of course, with evangelism. Historically, where new ideas are concerned, this industry is grounded on quick results and fast time to market. Consequently, ASP marketing quite frequently has all the subtlety of a Russian artillery barrage.

Most IT companies have seen the writing on the wall when it comes to the future of the PC and the accepted method of software licensing. In an IP-based world, the principles of one information delivery mechanism are about to replace another over a number of broad fronts.

As a result, big household names are scrambling to avoid the fate of the dinosaurs and need to convince the public - that's you, of course - that ASP is a truly excellent idea, a great investment and that you should sign up instantly.

I'm being a touch sarcastic here because it's time that somebody flagged the interests of the customers, rather than simply projecting the enthusiasm of the suppliers. That is one reason why I'm launching the ASP Community at the Networks Show.

Although it is quite possible to summarise the ASP proposition in 30 minutes, a sensible debate can take a great deal longer. What ASP requires is the maturity and reliability of the dial tone. What it has is a growing forest of different service offerings, a new breed of double-glazing salesman and complex service level agreements which need to be negotiated with care.

Attractive and even cost-effective it may be, but ASP certainly needs a conscience outside of supplier self-regulation. With Microsoft stuck at the bottom of a pit of its own making, there's an opportunity to pass comment on the evolution of an idea - one which might actually offer a solution for companies wishing to concentrate on business, rather than IT.

Simon Moores is chairman of the Windows NT Forum and Java Forum

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