Unisys claims MAStery of ASP model

E-business solutions outfit Unisys launched its managed application service provider (MAS) offerings this week, claiming MAS companies will stamp out what it labels the "limited" services of boutique ASPs.

Coined as the MAS model, Unisys' new enterprise-focused ASP service provides IT infrastructure and value-added services, also enabling large businesses to sell the service on to their own clients.

Claiming it will change the definition of an ASP, Unisys said its MAS offerings cover a cross-section of services from hosting, to ASP and application management outsourcing, thus surpassing the traditional single-point solution, "one to many" approach.

"At the high end, the calibre of our offering is of a higher quality than the traditional ASP," said Unisys director of ASP services Paul Gleeson.

Unisys claims the ASP industry has offered shallow offerings focusing largely on co-location and telehousing services to SMEs, but says its MAS model holds more value than "applications as a service."

"But customers are demanding relevance and quality of service. The big issue is that ASP companies can no longer just offer hosting, for instance. For the whole ASP marketplace to mature, you need to develop a layered offering with depth of services to the enterprise - they have to be customized, one-to-one."

Specifically, Unisys' MAS portfolio includes traditional data centre services, consolidated desktop management, network management, business process services, inbound call centre management, consulting, and additional software tools.

Gleeson added that said the end of the boutique ASP was near, claiming they were trapped in a cash-burn model and offered only niche services. "Unisys saw that the enterprise needed a layered offering and for us to be able to sell it to a CEO, CFO or CIO, not just an IT manager tied to the traditional ASP," he said.

Unisys is confident its MAS service will flourish in high-end markets, and expects the strongest demand to come from the finance and insurance, large manufacturing and telecommunications industries, all of which are seeking more complex offerings, Gleeson said.

And Unisys has no reservations over sharing its MAS concept, maintaining that its ideas are not "rocket science," and that it is chasing revenue of millions-not billions-through the MAS business over the next few years. "We're not trying to compete with top outsourcing firms like EDS, CSC or IBM GSA, but play in the tier two field," he stressed.

Meanwhile, Unisys is negotiating partnership agreemens with CapGemini Ernst&Young to skill-swap in Ariba and SAP software implementation for MAS customers.

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