Acquisition starts Novell travelling on ASP track

Novell has joined the ever-expanding list of software vendors planning to become application service providers and will release specific details on its strategy later this year.

The revelation came in the wake of the vendor's announcement earlier this month that it would acquire US-based application service provider (ASP) JustOn.

"We're going to announce our ASP strategy later in the year," Jonathan Cohen, spokesperson for Novell, said.

He said the reason Novell plans to acquire Internet file management company JustOn is to build up the portfolio of technologies required to enter the ASP marketplace both as a supplier and a direct participant.

"We're looking at both opportunities: to provide the services for consumers and businesses and to also make technology available to ASPs, including our partners," he said. "We want to do both."

But as Jamie Lewis, president of US-based analyst firm The Burton Group, pointed out, Novell will now confront the same delicate challenge facing other vendors such as Oracle, which is trying to sell its products to ASPs at the same time as competing with them.

Similarly, Microsoft is licensing Office 2000 to ASPs while offering it directly to small businesses.

He said Novell's desire to extend its technological capabilities into the ASP role is understandable, but until a formal strategy announcement is made later this year, it will be impossible to assess how receptive users will be to the idea of using Novell as an ASP. Privately-held JustOn lets users store and share files at a secure Web site using any Web-connected device.

Novell has long been the vendor most synonymous with file management within enterprises, but not over the Internet.

Novell will combine JustOn's capability with its directory, caching and proxy server technologies to sell to ASPs and power its own ASP ambitions.

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