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Ignite Fires Up BT's ASP Strategy

British Telecommunications plc (LSE: BT.A) yesterday entered the global content and ASP hosting business with the launch of new services from BT Ignite, its recently-formed broadband IP business.

Ignite Content Hosting unveiled managed hosting services across a network of 20 Internet data centres throughout Western Europe, all of them either wholly owned by BT or part of joint venture partnerships.

At the same time, it launched Ignite ASP Enabler, a wholesale ASP service targeted at distributors, value added resellers, independent software vendors and specialist ASPs. The flexible end-to-end service, available with a range of support options, allows customers such as ISVs and integrators to promptly distribute software to new and existing markets — initially across Europe and the US — using Ignite's network backbone and data centres.

"Coupled with our pan-European network, ASP Enabler offers vendors all they need in order to build an effective ASP business and meet the demands of a burgeoning market," said Vernon Irvin, president of Ignite Content Hosting.

"We envisage ASP Enabler as being a global product," added Peter Grimes, head of product for application services, speaking to ASP-News. ASP Enabler is initially available from Ignite facilities in the UK, the Netherlands and the US. "We are into deploying this globally — and the market that is mostly available is spread between the US and Europe," he explained

Ignite also launched the first of what it plans as a range of subscription applications that its ASP wholesale customers will be able to sell on to their own customers. Ignite Data Analyst, from US software vendor DecisionPoint Applications Inc (DPA), is a software tool designed to cross-analyse business data held on enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other systems.

Hosting with Ignite was a "no-brainer," DPA's Michael Prescott told ASP-News. "We don't want to build the infrastructure for this."

BT expects other enterprise ISVs will take the same view, believing they will be attracted by the variety of network delivery options available via Ignite as well as the range of ancillary services available under ASP Enabler. There will be various support and management options as well as front desk and billing services that can supplement or substitute for customers' own resources.

However DPA is a somewhat exceptional example, since BT became an investor in the Portland OR-based data warehouse vendor in May this year, when it participated in a $21m mezzanine funding round. Ignite has secured the exclusive worldwide rights for ASP delivery of the DecisionPoint product.

Yesterday's Ignite launch is part of the global plan announced recently by BT, US telecoms carrier AT&T, and Concert — BT's global venture with AT&T — to build a network of 44 Internet data centres in 16 countries.

Ignite is BT's new international broadband IP business focused on corporate and wholesale markets in the UK and continental Europe, and worldwide through AT&T and Concert. With one of the largest broadband networks in Europe, it aims to provide city fibre rings, xDSL and wireless local loop broadband access across Europe.

Ignite Content Hosting will offer customers a complete solution from broadband networking through to IP services, content hosting, application services, outsourcing and system integration.