Microsoft Rolls Out its ASP Business Strategy

Microsoft Corp unveiled a comprehensive new ASP business strategy this weekend at its Fusion 2000 partner channel conference in Atlanta GA.

The announcements included a new certification scheme for ASPs, help with partnering, and support with implementing hosted services. The vendor also took the wraps off its subscription licensing for ASPs, which will come into effect August 1st – see separate story, Microsoft Outlines its ASP Licensing Model.

Reflecting the growing importance of ASPs as partners, it revealed that it will be relaunching its existing MCSP (Microsoft Certified Solutions Provider) program in October under a new name that will include ISVs and ASPs as well as integrators and resellers.

Microsoft presented the ASP programs as a first step in its .NET strategy, which it announced last month – see related story, Microsoft Maps Out a Net-Centric Future, Jun 24th 2000.

“Microsoft’s .NET vision will establish a new world of dynamic software services,” said company president and CEO Steve Ballmer. “ASPs, developers and channel partners can participate in this vision today by building, customizing and reselling XML-based, programmable Web services, integrating .NET building block services such as Passport, and customizing and reselling bCentral small-business services.”

The company introduced a beta version of Small Business Server 2000. It includes links to services hosted on bCentral, which the company said partners can integrate into solutions for their small business customers.

Leading its efforts to get developers and partners working with ASPs, the ASP Service Delivery Initiative is Microsoft’s new scheme to bring together independent software vendors (ISVs), application service providers (ASPs) and its reseller channel of Microsoft Certified Solution Partners (MCSPs).

One function of the scheme will be to team up ISVs and ASPs with Microsoft-friendly hosting providers such as Digex Inc., Data Return Corp., EDS, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Cable and Wireless. It will also aim to link up ASP aggregators such as BT and Centerbeam with the sales and customization skills of the Microsoft sales channel to customize and resell their solutions.

Microsoft also launched the ASP Certification Program, for ASPs that demonstrate consistent, high-quality delivery of hosted solutions or outsourcing services built on Microsoft technology. It is open to MCSPs who offer any of five hosted solutions – Exchange, e-commerce, managed desktop, streaming media or Office OnLine. Eligible participants will have to meet a number of requirements in terms of skills and facilities, verifed by an on-site assessment.

To help partners get started down the ASP path, Microsoft released various support tools, including The Guide to Developing and Hosting Web Applications, a set of resources available for download or as CD-ROM that explains to developers how to get the most out of Microsoft platforms and technologies in a hosted environment.

It also released a new list of ISV partners with applications that are suitable for deployment by ASPs, including companies offering operational support and management tools such as Xevo, HP and Evidian.

Finally, it said it will work to develop professional services in alliance with systems integrators such as Compaq Computer Corp., EDS and marchFirst Inc. to help ISVs and ASPs deploy ASP services.

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