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7 is UK's First Enterprise ASP Aggregator

UK-based startup 7 proclaimed a new category in the ASP market today, launching itself as a 'business services aggregator'. Symbolising the reliability it plans to offer customers, 7's central data centre has been built into the bullion vaults of a former Bank of England building in Liverpool.

7 — so named because it takes responsibility for all seven layers defined in the OSI network infrastructure standard — will act as an ASP aggregator, providing a range of applications at guaranteed service levels to midrange and larger enterprises.

Although it will partner with existing systems integrators to implement services for end user enterprises, 7 will not occupy a background wholesale role. It will directly manage network links all the way to the client's desktops, providing a single point of accountability for service levels and raising a single, itemised services bill.

To ensure a robust, guaranteed service, 7 operates its own data centre and will use private lines to connect to customer sites rather than the public Internet. But it will not be supporting traditional client-server applications, focussing instead on fully Web-centric applications that can be delivered to a standard browser. "That's the only way we believe scalability can be delivered," said founder and CEO Karl Roe at today's launch in central London.

At launch, it offers Microsoft Exchange as a Web-based application as well as managed data network, storage and security services. It will add additional applications as suitable products become available, hosting them in its data centre. It will also offer its services to independent software vendors as an ASP infrastructure provider (AIP).

Its billing model emulates those of utilities such as electricity and telephone providers. It makes separate charges for connection, a monthly standing charge, and then metered, pay-as-you-go charges for application usage. "We've got to make this simple — for customers to buy, the pricing has to be coherent," said Roe.

7 will work with integration partners to tailor its application offerings to meet the needs of specific verticals and customer enterprises. "We deliver to the channel trusted platforms from world-class vendors. The channel will continue as it is delivering the desktop integration services," said Roe.

"The ASPs that succeed are the ASPs that will focus vertical software as a service — delivering applications to vertical marketplaces," he added.

7 is backed by £5m ($7.25m) of first round funding, with a second round currently in progress. Partners announced at launch include IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Cable & Wireless.



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