Telecom: second crack at ASP

Telecom has quietly re-entered the ASP market and is finalising an offering it will market to businesses next year.

Telecom has quietly re-entered the ASP market and is finalising an offering it will market to businesses next year.

The new product, called Officeware, is a repackaged version of other ASP (application service provider) vendors’ offerings.

Currently, Officeware is essentially GDC’s iVASP service, but Telecom Advanced Solutions has been negotiating with GDC and other local ASP vendors to create a version that it will offer to customers.

Computerworld understands Officeware received a “soft” launch in July with a single customer — so soft that the word “Officeware” doesn’t appear on the Telecom website.

Citing commercial concerns, Telecom representatives repeatedly declined to comment, although last month Advanced Solutions group head Chris Quin told IDG that two “reasonable-sized” customers have signed up for Officeware.

ASP products are delivered over a network, and sold on a subscription basis. Telecom originally entered the ASP market with its ill-fated esolutions venture.

John Hodgson, general manager of GDC’s technology solutions division, says Telecom and GDC always intended to review the Officeware arrangement this month.

Last week Hodgson said he expects to hear the results of the review very soon. “I’m sure they’ll let us know as soon as they’re ready.”

Earlier this month GDC received a jolt when Telecom removed it from the list of contractors that maintain its networks.

Telecom has also been talking to Enprise, which offers the Exonet ERP package in New Zealand.

Enprise head Mark Loveys says Telecom will sell the Exonet accounting tools as part of Officeware, but Enprise will continue to operate the service. “Effectively, Enprise is the service provider behind the Telecom offering,” he says.

Loveys believes Telecom’s choice of locally developed systems will give it a stronger product. “We’re in the business of offering New Zealand companies a product that’s been built locally and tends to meet their needs better than what comes from overseas.”

However, Microsoft Office is thought to also be included in Officeware.

Telecom first entered the ASP market in February 2000, when Telecom, EDS and Microsoft banded together to create esolutions, a “virtual” joint venture.

The ASP market didn’t meet early expectations and in April 2001 the company ceased development of ASP solutions and described itself as an e-commerce infrastructure provider.

In July last year, Telecom pulled the plug and rolled esolutions into its Advanced Solutions group. Local ASP vendors say the market is healthy and Telecom’s interest is expected. Graham Clarke, head of Computerland-owned AppServ, says esolutions’ demise was not due to the marketplace.

“I think it’s important that there’s a vibrant and viable industry,” he says. “I think the fact that people have come and gone is probably because of the model they’ve used, rather than the service.

“Them [Telecom] being in the market is not a great concern. I just think it’s inevitable.”

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