Bell Nexxia Inc. will be providing Oracle Corporation Canada Inc.’s Business OnLine (BOL) application service provider (ASP) offering to corporate Canada under an agreement announced in early October.
BOL is Oracle’s recently released product for the ASP market. According to Don Copeman, vice-president of applications and market development for Oracle Canada, companies can bring their applications back into a managed central server environment and all they will need on their desktop is any type of device that will run a Java-enabled Internet browser to view screens. BOL will run Oracle applications, as well as hundreds of others, Copeman said.
“We’re taking all of those applications and we’re putting them into professionally managed, centralized environments” he explained. “And corporations can basically run their entire global operation by simply deploying these simple PC devices on the desktop with Netscape-type browsers on them and access this process data from anywhere in the world.”
BOL will host all of its customers’ relationships, and will also host independent software vendor as well as Oracle applications from the Bell Nexxia data centre. Bell Nexxia will, in exchange, provide the network infrastructure and network bandwidth from its Internet data centre, as well as manage services 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.
The applications are basically just ready to turn on, according to Copeman. Customers should ensure that their LANs and PCs are configured with their browsers “and you basically, either through the Internet or through a VPN with all the security and encryption that you would need, access the fundamental applications,” he explained.
Business OnLine was originally targeted at small to mid-market organizations – “companies from $10 million in revenue to about $500 million,” Copeman said, but he added larger organizations have shown interest as well.
Cameron Dow, an analyst with
IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, said that the Oracle service would be useful to any size of enterprise.
“Because it’s a little more cost effective and they can get up and running on it a lot quicker, it may be an option for either large organizations or even business units or divisions within a large organization,” he said. “Because they’re almost like a large size company by themselves, (they) may opt to go this route rather than purchasing the licence and implementing it themselves.”
Copeman said that is part of the message BOL is hoping to get across. Services like these, he said, will save business money because “they can basically lower the cost associated with the ongoing hardware and software operations and focus more on internal customer satisfaction, their customers, internal customers and strategic value-added projects and basically let go of some of the, more of the core functionality of the software within the organization,” he said.
With Business OnLine, customers buy all the applications as well as any implementation services they might need from consultants. Oracle also charges customers a hosting fee.
Although Copeman said the pricing model for the hosting fees is fairly simple, he explained that there are various categories of users, which will affect the exact final cost.
Customers can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1,300 per user, per month, depending on factors such as frequency of use, he explained.
The ASP market has growth potential, according to Dow, who said to expect a lot of changes over the next few years.
“There’s going to be a lot of competition in this market,” he predicted. “It’s going to grow quite quickly. By the end of this year it’s only going to be about a $12.5 million market. Over the next three or four years, it’s going to grow to over $200 million, and that’s just at the high end.”
As an example, Dow pointed out that while there isn’t a lot of competition for BOL right now, there will be very soon. Companies such as Baan and PeopleSoft will be making their move into the market, but Dow said that other companies, who may not be traditional Oracle competititors, will be entering the market as well.
“There are other companies like IBM-, EDS-like services firms who are going to be getting into this. There are telcos that are going to be getting into this,” he said.
As Dow explained, Business OnLine is a service that was launched in the U.S. a year ago, and Canadians have been waiting for it here. The agreement with Bell Nexxia is the first step for Oracle to offer the service in Canada.
“To date they don’t have any Canadian customers, and I think that part of the challenge for Oracle was not having a Canadian company where they could host the applications. So it’s a really important first step, and it’s really a logical step. Obviously, with the reputation and experience of Bell, it’s a good partnership in that regard.”
If they didn’t have a host in Canada, Oracle would have had to find a host in the U.S. —
an idea that has met with resistance in the past “in terms of having your data and your applications hosted outside of the country,” said Dow, adding that this agreement was definitely an important move on Oracle’s part.
But if Canadians want services right away, that’s the route they can take. Business OnLine services are already available in Canada, according to Copeman, through centres
set up in the U.S.. Canadian customers can go through those until the Canadian Bell Nexxia centre is set up by the end of the year.