Accounting software specialist Accpac has expanded its application service provider (ASP) offerings to include managed operations. It will host not only its own software, but end user-owned products as well.
Llewellyn Victor, technical consultant at Accpac, which is owned by Computer Associates (CA), explained that although the firm hosts its own software already, this is an alternative for ASP-shy companies. "The benefit to businesses is you can still own it, but we will look after it for you," he said.
ASP Mareechi.com was named as Accpac's first partner in the new scheme, and Victor pointed out that one of the reseller's strengths is that it gives each customer its own dedicated server, thereby alleviating many security fears.
"That is one of the big stumbling blocks," he said. "Companies do not know what is happening to their software or data. They feel more comfortable this way."
Analyst IDC has predicted that the amount of money spent on ASPs could increase from $12m in 2000 to $63m by 2002.
Victor admitted that many firms are slow to accept the new model, but said: "As people realise it is not so bad after all, they will be more willing to go down that road. People have a single server running all their software on site; that's basically an in-house ASP. But setting up a [state-of-the-art] data centre is incredibly expensive."
He suggested that smaller companies would be attracted to ASPs because they cannot afford the security measures a dedicated ASP can provide.
"Security issues are the reason this makes sense," he said. "It's the same software they've been using, but with the infrastructure and security already in place."
Tony Gilligan, managing director at Accpac reseller SystemLink, said that resellers will have to wait 12 to 18 months to feel the real effect of Accpac's strategy.
"So far this has affected us in a positive way, but we will have to wait to see the real effect," he said. "Software manufacturers are moving towards the ASP model, and Accpac is setting a precedent."
Gilligan also said that business partners will have to change the way they offer solutions to clients, and how they run their businesses, if they are to survive.
Cyrus Razzaghi, regional manager at Accpac Europe, explained that the firm offers two ASP programmes. "Large resellers can join our ASP partner programme, which allows those with up-front investments to build a data centre and become ASPs. Smaller resellers can take part in the ASP referral programme, which lets them sell and consult on ASP offerings and receive commission," he said.
Accpac, a division of CA's InterBiz group, has also enrolled in IBM's PartnerWorld for Developers programme, and has been validated by IBM as ServerProven.
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