ASPs Begin to Offer Application Integration

FRAMINGHAM (08/04/2000) - Application service providers (ASP) claim to offer virtually everything an information technology manager needs, except software integration. And even that's changing.

Some ASPs are now courting developers to write applications integrated under strict guidelines set by the ASPs. While these integrated applications are aimed at the small and medium business market, they are often useful for larger companies that need applications for a temporary or mobile workgroup.

This week, SoftwareMarkets Inc. in Fremont, Calif., announced its new online application catalog service. If developers write easily integratable applications using SoftwareMarkets' proprietary Java extensions, the company will certify the application's ability to integrate, market it and provide users other services such as security and tech support.

Rick George, CEO of Chameleon Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif., which develops project management software, said he has been impressed with the beta version of the new ASP's Java platform, particularly the underlying object database.

Manpower, Money Saved

Using traditional databases, he says, entire staffs might be needed to design the schema that defines elements such as fields for names or customer billing information.

With SoftwareMarkets' tools, according to George, "you give it any Java object and theobject can determine where the data within it should be stored in the database."

FreeMe Inc. in Austin, Texas, which introduced its U-Platform last month, has added its own suite of integrated software, such as e-mail, groupware and calendering, as a basic package for customers and to prove its integration capabilities. While SoftwareMarkets uses Java with its own extensions, FreeMe uses proprietary technology that outputs XML to browsers.

Chris Engle, director of research at Angelou Economic Advisors Inc., a site-selection consultancy in Austin, Texas, is using the beta version of FreeMe. He said his company has struggled to synchronizee-mail accounts for traveling users, a problem FreeMe's integrated, Web-based applications seem to solve. Engle added he will save moneyby not having to purchase security software.

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