Much ado about ASPs

In fact, Rob Kirkey, of CRM software vendor Great Plains, compared the success of remotely hosted software, to date, with Seinfeld character George Costanza, who "sold a show about nothing for millions of dollars".

The key to ASP success, according to Citrix's business development manager, Phil Osborne, is in promoting reliability and simplicity of remotely hosted software products. He cited a local (unnamed) ASP customer, which he said had requested remotely hosted software be made accessible, literally, by use of an "on-off" switch. "They don't want to be given instructions about how to upgrade this or that program from the internet," he said. An example of successful remotely hosted user-invisible technology was the telephone, he said.

Accordingly, Brent Sutton, channels manager for interBiz (Computer Associates' ebusiness division), attributed slow ASP uptake to "too much focus on technology and vendor/service partners" and insufficient publicity given to the immediate changes to "business culture" potentially made possible through application service provision. "ASPs are ignoring this (promoting user-friendly service) at their peril," he said.

Lisa Robinson, spokeswoman for local ASP, Alta Internet Business Centres, said most Australian enterprises were uninformed about the business advantages of ASP, and were consequently reluctant to implement ASP systems. She said businesses feared loss of control and a decrease in reliability of mission-critical applications as a result of renting software from a remote site.

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