New Zealand companies are set to join the international market in offering business applications for hire over the Internet.
Sequent will become the country's first application service provider within the next six weeks, while Cardinal has announced plans to also enter the market.
Sequent and an as yet unnamed data centre partner are setting up an ASP service across New Zealand and Australia which will provide ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) and electronic commerce applications across the Web.
Clear Communications is the telecommunications provider, although Sequent is talking to other telco carriers. The service is expected to go live in the next six weeks.
Sean McDonald, Sequent general manager northern region, says the cost of the back-end infrastructure is upwards of $3.5 million.
McDonald says by using its rapid deployment methodology, Sequent will be able to offer significantly shorter lead times for applications. "We're talking 10 to 12 weeks for an ERP application as opposed to one to two years. We're taking specific applications in ERP and CRM environments and packaging them across vertical industries."
Cardinal's spokesman Greg Williamson says the Jade Group has set up a business unit to put together the capability using Jade thin-client technology. "We're talking to number of package-focused software companies," he says.
Cardinal will deliver the applications over its national backbone
The launch of such services will bring New Zealand into line with a worldwide trend. Overseas telcos and carriers are looking at becoming ASPs as a way to add value and differentiate themselves from other carriers and Internet service providers.
In the US, telcos - such as Qwest, Conxion, US West and Sprint - have announced new application-hosting services and plans. At the same time, 25 other vendors and service providers created the ASP Industry Consortium, which plans to develop common ASP definitions, sponsor research and educate users and vendors.
Meanwhile, Computerworld sources say Telecom is planning to trial rentable applications over the Internet and that the telco has been in discussions with SAP and other ERP vendors.
Telecom spokesman Glen Sowry says, however, the telco is only having a close look at ERP applications.
"We are having no detailed discussions with third parties," he says. "We view it as a potential market. We're trying to get a handle on whether there is a market. But there's a high level of confidence."
Last November Oracle CEO Larry Ellison announced that Oracle would deliver Internet-based application hosting for smaller businesses, based on its 8i database. Known as Oracle Business Online, the service has not yet been rolled out in New Zealand. Oracle was also to introduce a hosted email service, Internet Messaging.
EDS, which is in the running for Telecom's IT outsourcing, to be decided shortly, has recently approached Oracle about its Internet-hosted application service, sources say.