Startup joins tools ASP fray

A Seattle-based startup on Monday will launch an ASP (application service provider)-model service for Web developers. Westside, the HRAD (hosted rapid application development) service, takes the same name as the company and is aimed at small to mid-size companies as well as enterprises that requite departmental-level application development.

Westside combines a database server, Web server, and application server into a single programming interface so developers can build data-driven Web applications.

"The Westside service helps Java Script developers move from developing Web pages to building full applications," said Tom Williams, Westside's marketing director.

The result is that a much broader class of developers can build Web applications, Williams said, adding that other ASP-related benefits apply, such as lower cost of entry, faster time to market, as well as improved communication between developers in different locales.

Application development tools, by nature, lend themselves to the ASP model, according to James Duggan, research director at Gartner Group in Cary, N.C.

While Westside, as a company, was founded on the principle of hosting tools, a number of traditional tools vendors have also moved toward hosting their own tools or enabling ASPs to offer them. Merant International, Compuware, and Borland have all brought to market in the last several months hosted services for managing the application development lifecycle.

The hosted development services typically provide users with a means to access the project via a Web browser and from there to organize the code, track changes, and communicate with other team members.

Westside's Williams added that in six to eight months Westside will ship a version that customers can install behind the firewall.

Westside was started by former Microsoft employees and takes its name because it resides on the west side of Seattle, across the deep divide and traffic-laden floating bridges of Lake Washington from the Redmond-based giant.

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