Executives at the ASP Summit in Colorado predicted that alliances would be crucial for ASPs to persuade corporate customers they can deliver complete and reliable services.
As more resellers look to becoming ASPs, Traver Gruen-Kennedy, chairman of the ASP Industry Consortium, explained last Wednesday: "ASP's middle name is service. It's about services, not about technology."
As a result, he said, the Consortium's initial focus was to foster education, common definitions, research, adoption guidelines and best practices among its members and the industry.
Gruen-Kennedy added that the body had grown to more than 200 member companies from only 25 in just six months.
Jeff Anderson, vice president of strategic development at Sprint Business, claimed: "By 2001, there is no question that ASPs will become mainstream." He predicted that ASPs were "on the verge of shaking up the world".
This meant ASPs would need "to forge the complex partnerships needed for seamless systems", Anderson added.
Sprint provides both the enabling technology for ASP-related infrastructure and acts as an ASP for large enterprises.
It has also set up a Preferred Partner Programme to certify ASP partners that want to undertake joint branding and marketing targeted at the small and medium sized business market.
Compaq also reconfirmed its interest in the emerging sector, which analysts forecast will be worth $20bn by 2003.
A spokesman for Compaq warned that ASPs should not promise high availability to every customer, but should "identify what customers really need. Do they all really need 99.999 per cent availability? Going from 99.5 per cent to 99.95 alone will double their costs."
The founders of the international consortium, which was set up to establish industry standards, include AT&T, Cisco, Compaq, IBM, Sun Microsystems and UUNet.
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