ASPs: the new frontier of on-line solutions

From Carol DoCuoto’s perspective, the future of e-commerce lies totally within the ability of application service providers (ASPs) to become business to business (B2B) hubs and provide a variety of applications and utilities through a series of partnerships.

During a February presentation on the subject at the Internet World & ISPCON Canada 2000 conference in Toronto, the e-services project manager for Hewlett-Packard Canada told the crowded seminar that a series of new on-line solutions aimed at the betterment of ASP services was the next big E.

“Whatever service, whatever resource or application you want access to over the Net, we’re really moving more and more into providing that full network access to a community of buyers and sellers,” she explained. “In order to do that, service providers may not be able to provide all those applications or resources on their own…it (e-services) really is an overall market strategy on where the Internet and the businesses that want to use Web-based technologies are focusing. We’re calling it the next chapter in Internet computing.”

This would explain why HP Canada established their Computer Utility Services Division last year – as a means of running, managing and operating applications provided to the organization’s ASP partners.

“Those service provider partners can then take those applications and…white label or brand those as their own applications,” she added.

DoCuoto pointed to HP Canada’s e-services as the evolution of a new ecosystem for ASPs. “That’s the model we see [for the future of] e-commerce and e-business” she said. “The concept of e-services is evolving beyond e-commerce and e-business…it is any service or resource made available over the ‘net. It could be an e-commerce application or an e-business application, or it could be the microprocessor in your car…in many ways these e-services as services or resources can tap into the concepts and applications made available over the Internet.”

She suggested companies will be able to look to partnership services such as HP Canada’s ‘Apps-on-tap’ (an on-line collection of the organization’s e-services) as a bridge between addressing their customer’s needs while maintaining their budget, thereby making the Internet a new utility model for computing.

“Organizations [will] no longer need to worry about running and managing and operating these departments on their own, but potentially look to partners as application service providers that will provide that functionality,” DoCuoto said. “They’ll pay on a per user-basis or on a per transaction basis. We’re delivering computing in the same model we see today, where you get your water and where you get your hydro, or how you access and use your telephone…this is an expanding financial market that is really just starting to grow with significant growth expected over the next two to three years.”

DoCuoto insisted partnerships are essential for a Canadian-based ASP to be successful. “They’re not going to be able to do it on their own,” she warned. “A very strong partnership model is going to be required…you [need] a strong, partnership model which will enable organizations to come together and build this mission-critical infrastructure on which these applications will run.”

Joining DoCuoto during the presentation was Ken Gouveia, director of service development with Bell Nexxia in Toronto. Bell Nexxia – a subsidiary of BCE Emergis Inc. that has been touted as the next generation of service provider within the BCE family – has partnered with HP Canada to deliver their collective rendition of the e-services solution.

Gouveia identified ASPs as the beneficiaries of the developing e-services realm. “The application service providers will be the ones to ride the wave of this new trend,” Gouveia said. “One of the major things we’re trying to provide are solutions to a wide variety of needs the ASP market has…from networking capabilities, hosting capabilities, to ASP application capabilities to messaging capabilities and white-label billing capabilities. The ASP market is going to be a very demanding specialized market, we’re going to be required to create new features and functionality and we must drive to personalize and white label our products and services.”

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