Novell Takes Aim at ASPs with OnDemand

At ISPCON in Orlando, Fla., Novell on Monday made another push toward the service provider market with the unveiling of Novell OnDemand services, software allowing ASPs (appplication service providers) to "rent" software or other services to their customers on-demand.

OnDemand, which requires Novell's eDirectory as a foundation, links together back-end server components and Web servers where applications and content are actually hosted. Customers would access the system via a Web browser, select the objects they want to use, and see the rental length and payment terms before choosing to put in their credit card number and gain access to their objects.

"What Novell OnDemand services does is expose the objects down inside the directory -- which in the past have been users and printers, things inside the enterprise -- outside the enterprise and beyond the firewall," said Michael Brown, product manager at Novell OnDemand services.

"Rather than just offer access to those objects, you can charge for that access using the directory commerce services functionality. The directory's never been able to expand out beyond the firewall like that, and it hasn't ever been able to grant access to objects on a for-fee basis before," Brown said.

Brown listed services such as computer-based training, video and music files, hosted online disk space, and document aggregation as possible services an ASP could rent out to its customers. Once the rental time has expired, access to the applications is turned off unless a user "puts another quarter in the car wash, so to speak," he said.

OnDemand marks another facet of Novell's Net Services and one Net vision and is part of the company's continuing attempts to capture service providers' attention, a market that company officials consider vital to Novell's future success.

"These technologies are the logical extension of Novell Directory Services; it's adding that value layer on top of the directory that service providers can now see as a way [that] they can create an additional revenue stream to the services they're already offering," Brown said. "It works for a hosted model or if I'm just trying to add additional value to my Web site."

OnDemand Services will be part of the Novell iCSP (Internet Commerce Service Provider) Licensing program, a subscription-based licensing model. Service providers would pay a monthly, set-rate fee based on the number of users who access a service or content through OnDemand.

Later this week at ISPCON, Novell will also introduce the next version of its Novell Internet Messaging System, NIMS 2.5, a messaging solution designed for use by ISPs and ASPs.

Novell, Inc., in Provo, Utah, is at www.novell.com.

Stephanie Sanborn is an InfoWorld reporter.

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