C&W unveils Web apps for small businesses

Still pursuing smaller enterprises that are in the market for hosted business applications, Cable & Wireless PLC on Tuesday unveiled a suite of managed computing services.

Dubbed 'a-Services Webtop,' the offering promises to scoot corporate applications from the desktop to the Internet by letting executives access corporate applications via Internet Explorer.

Cable & Wireless, along with partners Microsoft and Compaq, had made clear last fall at the Networld + Interop trade show in Atlanta that the London-based carrier is going after the small to midsize corporate market by offering applications that bundle in a "hosted virtual desktop."

At that point, Cable & Wireless began offering 'a-Workspace'-hosted applications accessed by thin clients and corporate LANs.

The fresh Webtop offer now includes a "virtual" Microsoft Windows 2000 desktop accessible via the browser. The service also lets users access hosted Microsoft Office 2000 and personal and shared corporate file storage, after downloading Citrix Systems Inc. application server software.

The basic Webtop Productivity bundle includes online storage capacity of 400MB for both personal and shared company storage.

The higher end Webtop Productivity Plus wraps in Hosted Exchange with 175MB of personal e-mail storage and 25MB of shared e-mail storage.

Also available is Webtop Collaboration package, which -- as does Productivity Plus -- has Hosted Exchange and Outlook Web Access, but comes with less storage.

Pricing on the Webtop offerings varies. For instance, for users electing for Collaboration only, pricing starts at $US19.95 per month. That figure can jump up to $200 per month for Productivity Plus packaged with a Compaq iPAQ and other options.

Cable & Wireless executives have said the company hopes eventually to push the a-Services offering upstream to increasingly larger customers.

But for now the company has started its ASP (application service provider) push by targeting organisations with as many as 1,000 employees and $500 million in revenue.

The carrier cited Forrester Research Inc. figures that project that by 2003 the ASP market would be valued at $11.3 billion. Forrester has also said that a lion's share, 90 per cent, of that will come from the smaller enterprises.

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