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Opinion: ASP turns financial corner and proves

Opinion: ASP turns financial corner and proves

ASP turns financial corner and proves . . . . . . the business model, brags John Ottman, executive vice-president of worldwide markets at Corio. Maybe, maybe not.

ASP turns financial corner and proves . . . . . . the business model, brags John Ottman, executive vice president of worldwide markets at Corio Inc. Maybe, maybe not. Ottman says the San Carlos, Calif.-based application service provider (ASP) had 66 percent revenue growth in the recent quarter over the same period last year and was profitable -- although it used the popular dot-com EBITDA method of adding revenue dollars and cents without subtracting all of the company's real-world expenses.

Still, it's a good start. It's especially good when you consider that although Corio has only 100 customers, the same as it did about three years ago, these days precious few are dot-bombers.

Most of the new customers are outfits we've heard of, like American Express, Pfizer and the U.S. Coast Guard. The ASP's users also include Carlson Companies, one of the largest private companies in the U.S., which counts Radisson Hotels and TGI Friday's restaurants among its holdings.

But when CIO Stephen Brown explains why Corio is good for his company, it doesn't, as Ottman would have it, "prove the business model." Rather, it proves that Corio is willing to flex its business model to get and keep customers.

According to Brown, Carlson doesn't use Corio's data center to host its applications -- which the classic ASP business model would require. Instead, it exploits Corio's expertise, leveraging the ASP's technology until it can train its own IT staff on how to run the software. Carlson then co-locates the servers in its own data center in its Minneapolis headquarters.

Furthermore, even Ottman acknowledges that the traditional ASP model of demanding that users stick to cookie-cutter versions of an application is out the window. For example, Brown wouldn't have accepted his PeopleSoft application from Corio without substantial rework for Carlson's needs.

"We wanted to share in hosting and customization so we would have the skill sets from a process management point of view," he says. Where the classic ASP model does work well, Brown believes, are cases in which his company needs to "get resources by the drink" from Corio, such as an extra server to handle bigger loads.

Next month Corio will be serving up another drink to its customers: a new single-sign-on service with an identity management system. Users who wander from their computers for too long will be logged off all their open apps. But the single sign-on will dull that pain. Prosit.

Monitoring application licenses can be as tough as keeping tabs on users' access to them. LANDesk Software Inc. in South Jordan, Utah, has for years been helping IT shops comply with software licenses, as well as manage the deployment of software across the network, with its LANDesk Management Suite. Following today's announcement, Version 7 will hit the streets May 15 with support for Mac OS X clients and servers. With its profile-migration capabilities, application settings for the latest versions of Microsoft Office, Outlook and Internet Explorer will be maintained in Version 7. Lotus Notes profile migration will come in July.

Now that you're in license compliance for all your software, it's time to assure that you're in policy compliance with regulations such as HIPAA. One of the first out of the gate for that will be SecurityProfiling Inc. in Lafayette, Ind. CTO Brett Oliphant says you can expect the company's Policy Compliance product sometime this summer. SecurityProfiling plans to ship Version 2 of its Intelligent IDS next month. Oliphant claims that intrusion-detection systems (IDS) often identify up to 90 percent false positives, making these security packages essentially useless, since systems administrators cease taking the tools seriously. The new release, which will feature an improved user interface management console, will sort through every suspect packet using Snort, an open-source IDS, and compare those packets against your application portfolio. At least then you can eliminate all those potential breaches of no consequence to your network and maybe take your IDS seriously for once.

Real-Time Watchdog

This month, OSI Software Inc. in San Leandro, Calif., will announce its PI Server 3.4 real-time database, which collects information on everything from process control devices in manufacturing to routers and servers on your network. The new version will be able to gulp down data on more than 1.7 million elements you may care to monitor -- up from 200,000 elements in the current release. -- Computerworld (US)

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