Compaq, Digex, MS in apps hosting pact

Compaq and Microsoft will each invest $US50 million in Digex, a provider of Web and application hosting services, and together the three companies will jointly develop and deliver a suite of application hosting offerings.

The new services will be based on Compaq servers and storage products and Microsoft software, and will be managed through Digex's SmartCenter data centres, the companies said.

The services will be targeted at Application Service Providers (ASPs) as well as at customers directly, and will be designed to help them more quickly and inexpensively deliver software over the Internet, the companies said.

"What we're really providing is the full infrastructure for this ASP revolution," said Mark Schull, president and chief executive officer at Digex.

As part of the deal, Microsoft and Digex will jointly develop software interfaces designed to let Windows developers easily add "ASP-ready" features - for example, online provisioning, billing and incident tracking - into their applications, according to the companies. Among the anticipated components are the following:

ASP Server Platform, a component designed to speed automated provisioning and configuration of servers based on Windows 2000 and Compaq enterprise-class servers as well as advancements in server resource monitoring, data management and recovery.

ASP Application Platforms, which will be based on Microsoft platforms and will be designed specifically for commerce, messaging and office applications. They will be for use on top of the ASP Server Platform.

ASP Partner Interfaces - which will use software interfaces based on the Extensible Markup Language (XML) and the BizTalk framework of the Windows DNA platform - will be designed to permit sharing of business and server resource information. The interfaces will also offer a way for Microsoft ISVs and application developers to ASP-enable their applications.

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