IBM Philippines unveils new services for ASPs

Eyeing the great growth potential of the local application service market, IBM Philippines recently announced it is unveiling a new set of services that will build up Application Service Providers (ASPs) in the country.

Eyeing the great growth potential of the local application service market, IBM Philippines recently announced it is unveiling a new set of services that will build up Application Service Providers (ASPs) in the country.

MANILA (Manila Bulletin) - An ASP is any company that remotely hosts a software application, letting clients use it and access it over a network for a fee.

But while companies, big and small, have yet to take this infant market seriously, IBM Philippines chairman and CEO Ramon Dimacali believes ASPs will be patronized once they are established.

"Build it, and they will come," he said in an opening remark during a press conference to announce their latest services for ASPs that include the Premium e-Hosting, Hosting Advantage, and Service Provider Ready programs each aimed at different beneficiaries.

The programs, he said, are inspired by IBM's e-business strategies "to enable SME businesses participate in e-business" the way the big players do; "bring down the barriers of access to premium solutions and services" and "provide partnerships".

Dimacali said that collectively, they had in mind would-be dot-com companies; ASPs, themselves, or firms from various industries thinking of becoming ASPs; and software developers - when IBM developed those enabler programs.

Individually, the Premium e-Hosting program is meant to jumpstart the operations of budding ASPs by using IBM's server hardware and systems software platforms called "ASPin-a-box" solution, said IBM's local CEO.

Infant ASPs - IBM reseller partners, in particular - are also encouraged in the program to ally with strong and established ISVs (Independent Software Vendors), including IBM's own partners like Citrix, Great Plains, iemagine, and JDEdwards, so ASPs can access the best enterprise applications and services and meet growing customer requirements.

Existing service providers, meanwhile, can be qualified for the Hosting Advantage program which supports them in terms of reliable and secure Internet hosting service.

Through this program, ASPs can choose from different hosting partners who will help technically enable them and help them build a hosting environment.

Lastly, the Service Provider Ready program gives education, application, evaluation, testing, tech support and consulting services to software developers so they can rapidly enable their applications for Web hosting.

Moreover, hands-on assistance at the IBM Service Provider Ready Centers in Tokyo and in Sydney become available to the developers also through this program.

Quoting figures from Forrester Research, Dimacali said the application hosting market is seen to reach US$6.4 billion by 2001.

In the Philippines the IBM chairman sees a US$700 million worth of growth potential for the Internet industry, excluding the ASP segment.

Overseas, ASPs are quickly emerging as an important business model, since they provide companies up and down the ranks with cost-effecitve software apps which at the same time can be had universally by other prospective users at a cheaper cost.

Even Big Boys on the Fortune 500 list admit that the so-called "software as a service" approach offers real advantages, primarily lower upfront costs and quicker deployment of applications.

"ASPs are emerging as the IT data centers of the future for small and medium-sized businesses. They are also expected to compliment the internal data centers of large corporations. We see much potential for growth in the local ASP market," Dimacali stressed.

Presently, he sees corporate conglomerates as the "early adopters" of this new business model, although its growth would depend on how "key challenges", like "security (issues), reliability, customization and availability of content providers" will be resolved.