Skip to main content
I Told you I Was Sick
Spike Milligan

Software as a Service. Does it have a future? A question I’m trying to answer as my Virgin train lurches uncertainly on its way home from a seminar in Birmingham.

You’ve heard the sad story. Once upon a time it was ASP (Applications Service Provision) but nobody really wanted it, understood it or could afford it. Faced with its own obituary, it then became xSP or Managed Services (MSP), fractionally more attractive, as an acronym but hard-pressed to find customers who were prepared to take the risk or believe the promises being made for it.

Today, what was once ASP, is becoming increasingly mixed in with Web Services. Where one starts and another ends, remains a gray area for the analysts. ASP, you remember, started as a really clever way of delivering the popular and heavier, Office-type applications, to a thin client over an Internet or VPN connection. It was really Citrix by another name and explains why the company in conjunction with Microsoft, were seen as the driving forces behind the idea. The trouble of course was at the time, that the communications wasn’t up to the task and the sheer cost of setting up the infrastructure, invariably made applications delivery more expensive for the customer than simply buying software licenses. For the ASPs it was rather like building a new Disney theme park in the Midlands , relying on the rail network, with trains like the one I’m sitting in, to bring the customers, the last mile, to the door. It’s arguably cheaper and more comfortable to fly directly to Florida.

Software as a service is now becoming much more about smart web-enabled applications, as it should have been in the first place. True, the likes of Telewest are now in the business with partners such as 7Global and those big Microsoft Office and messaging applications can be provided by the services such as Blue Yonder. There are however many more examples of true web-enabled applications appearing from ISV’s, my favourite being Equology, the eCommerce development and web hosting service for small businesses which I use for my own web site.

ASP has changed, it’s grown up but very few people have noticed and are even prepared to find out, given the industry’s dismal track record for reliability. In this country, cheap broadband isn’t just good for the home user; it’s likely to have a major impact on the managed service market in the small business sector. Fast reliable access to component applications is going to make companies more confident about the ASP/xSP model.

The future will be one of mixed applications. Some will be local and others will be distributed along ASP lines. Today you don’t think twice over using a resource such as Streetmap.co.uk over the Web and perhaps Office from your company server. Over time, you’ll find yourself mixing and matching applications depending on how frequently they are needed and how heavy the use might be. Some will be more cost effective as ‘Pay per view’ apps, a market that Microsoft is developing through .Net, others will be rented from ASP/xSPs and the remainder will be locally available.

In the end, ASP will be less about technology and more about choice. While the acronym may be tired, the process behind it is gradually creeping into the way we work and before long, we’ll take for granted, an idea that hundreds of millions of wasted vendor marketing money could never achieve.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Nature of Nurture?

Recently, I found myself in a fascinating four-way Twitter exchange, with Professor Adam Rutherford and two other science-minded friends The subject, frequently regarded as a delicate one, genetics and whether there could exist an unknown but contributory genetic factor(s) or influences in determining what we broadly understand or misunderstand as human intelligence.

I won’t discuss this subject in any great detail here, being completely unqualified to do so, but I’ll point you at the document we were discussing, and Rutherford’s excellent new book, ‘A Brief History of Everyone.”

What had sparked my own interest was the story of my own grandfather, Edmond Greville; unless you are an expert on the history of French cinema, you are unlikely to have ever hear of him but he still enjoys an almost cult-like following for his work, half a century after his death.

I've been enjoying the series "Genius" on National Geographic about the life of Albert Einstein. The four of us ha…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…