ASP images in the frame

ASP images in the frame

One of the technologies which has allowed the application service provider to exist is host access software. Citrix has been the most active in this area, by changing its business structure to suit the new world of hosted applications. Its MetaFrame software can run all of the processing of an application on a client, leaving only the display refresh and keyboard commands to run over a corporate network or Internet line.

"There are two types of ASP clients," said Phil Osborne of Citrix Systems. "There are those who say they're happy to get a stripped-down Web version of their applications. Then there are others who say no, we do need to have the old application in a Web-based form."

Mr Osborne said the attractiveness of host access software, which delivers exactly the same application over the Internet as would appear on the screen of a fat PC was that the application vendor would not have to maintain two code bases.

"There are two ways to get an application up on the Web. You can rewrite it with an HTML or XML interface. Unless the app is basic, you can not get the richness of a client/server full-blown application," said Mr Osborne. "You can't get that level of richness or depth in shrink-wrapped software. With Citrix, you don't have to sacrifice that."

Mr Osborne heads the local arm of a new division within Citrix called I-business, which is tailoring MetaFrame for ASP conditions.

"The first thing we did was change our licensing model, because the old model doesn't work any more," he said. The company now rents out its software using a new contract it calls "ilicensing".

Mr Osborne said the most popular application in the initial phase of the ASP was line of business software, but one of the biggest ASP services in Australia was an imaging project which hosted petabytes of data.

"We could be surprised and find people who say, why don't we rent Office? We don't know what these people are going to want. It's too early to predict," he said.

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