More application service providers (ASP) are flying in the face of the one-to-one mantra of Internet supporters.
They're using value-added resellers (VAR) as middlemen to attract information technology managers who already use VARs to handle administrative services or application integration.
Last month, Santa Clara's Allegrix unveiled its "ASP in a Box" program exclusively for VARs. The program was designed to make it easier for VARs to resell ASP services, using Allegrix as a host for applications supplied by VARs or their clients.
However, according to Chris Clabaugh, CEO of Allegrix, VARs need to be taught about things such as service-level agreements expected by IT shops that buy outsourced services.
The ASP in a Box program includes a menu-driven cost-benefit application that, for example, helps users determine whether persistent staff shortages warrant off-loading application support to an ASP. Labour-intensive administrative tasks such as controlling what applications end users can launch on their PCs and maintaining network directories are ideal for outsourcing, said analyst Garth Gilmour at SK Consulting, the San Jose-based arm of IT consultant CBIZ.
Gilmour said SK Consulting has begun to offer these services through Kaseya, an ASP in Milpitas, California. Kaseya uses a client-based agent to communicate with server software located at the VAR's data center. Kaseya's central server keeps all the VAR servers current on software upgrades and patches.
Sophisticated ASP service like Kaseya's lets Gilmour increase his consulting operations and save money for his customers by making his services more efficient.
Caryn Gillooly, an analyst at Hurwitz Group in Framingham, said ASPs are smart to use VARs, especially for IT administrative services. "It's a great idea because the VAR has already established a relationship with the user," she said.
Benjamin Sperling, chief operating officer at Application Park, an ASP in San Francisco that also uses VARs, said for sophisticated IT shops, "ASPs and the Internet do cut out the intermediary. But not always. There is always somebody who needs hand-holding."