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OpSource Goes After On-Demand Startups

Next year may well be when software-on-demand comes fully into its own. If so, OpSource wants to help.

Software on-demand, also known as software as a service (SaaS), is a market that was formed by independent startups and has been embraced by most of the major software vendors, many of whom develop their own hosting and delivery infrastructures.

But this can be complex and costly, and it takes a company's focus off its core business of development, said OpSource CEO Treb Ryan.

"For someone who's a developer looking to get a new package out there, [working on the delivery infrastructure] is time not spent on creating the application and building the customer base," he said.

OpSource handles outsourcing of software-as-a-service for independent software vendors, including sales optimization application provider BlueMartini and Kana, which offers online customer service software.

Its Optimal On-Demand platform lets software vendors deliver their applications as subscription-based services; OpSource provides not only the technology infrastructure but also professional services and customer support services.

"We have a system for becoming the expert in the customers' application, as we put it on our platform," Ryan said. As far as the call center goes, he added, "It's our people answering the phone."

This week the company announced the OpSource SaaS Incubator program, a deal that gives software startups free six months of access to a package of entry-level services, including around-the-clock support and the complete delivery platform, as well as basic monitoring and backup.

"They're still doing some stuff themselves, but even before they have users, they can know that their very first customers can have a very robust environment," Ryan said. "It allows them to stay focused not on systems administration and security, but on going out and writing the best software."

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said it's accepting applications for Incubator tenants for the initial rollout. Companies must have annual revenues under $1 million, a software-as-a-service application in the beta stage of development running on either Windows Server 2003 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and a controlled customer base.

Two companies already are participating: Business Resource Software, a provider of marketing and business planning software, and Citizen Image, an online marketplace for digital images.

Kylon Gustin, vice president of sales for Business Resource Software, said in a statement that the OpSource SaaS Incubator gave the company a chance to work through development and deployment issues before it ramped up its customer acquisition efforts.

Ryan said that ISVs get the same benefits of OpSource's on-demand platform that their own customers do. He said, "One big problem software as a service has had is, companies had to buy the technology the old-fashioned way. This platform allows the software companies to buy it as they're selling it, on demand."