Apps-on-tap seen as ideal model for Asia

Using applications as services delivered over the Internet is emerging as an important model for small-to-medium sized Asian businesses, said Rick Yvanovich, chief executive officer of Singapore-based application service provider (ASP) TR Group International.

The benefits of the `apps-on-tap' model include lower, predictable costs, better data security, wider access options and less need to employ skilled staff, he said. `The key is keeping the costs predictable for end users through fixed-price contracts,' Yvanovich said. `This is very important for small and medium enterprises [SMEs] who are our main target market.'

TR Group, which launched its service last week, charges for its accounting and ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications on a per-seat basis rather than on the per-transaction basis adopted by other ASPs. Monthly costs will range from about $S200 ($182) to $S1000 ($910) depending on the number of seats and applications required, less than half the total cost of ownership of equivalent in-house hardware and software over three years, according to Yvanovich.

The service will first be tested in Singapore, and the company intends to begin expansion into Malaysia and perhaps India next year, Yvanovich said.

`Running ERP in-house means employing IT specialists on top of the hardware, software, service and maintenance costs,' Yvanovich said. `Most SMEs can't afford the high wages that those people command in a region where there is a skills shortage.'

TR Group hosts the applications and data at its own server farm, and uses Citrix Systems' Metaframe and ICA (Independent Computing Architecture) technologies so that end users access the applications through a standard Web browser.

Users will benefit when Internet access through cheap non-PC appliances, and over WAP (wireless application protocol) connections becomes a reality. Users will then be able to run applications through handheld devices and eventually smart mobile phones, but only through the ASP model, according to Yvanovich.

`Internet-based technologies are taking off in Asia and much of the growth will come through these appliances, which are cheaper and more reliable than PCs,' he said. `But if you are going to have mobile access, then you have to have centralised server-based information and applications.'http://www.trginternational.com

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