Forms vendors embrace ASP model

Forms vendors embrace ASP model

The concept of the application service provider, or ASP - a company that runs your IT infrastructure for you at a remote site - has many parallels with the older-style business models of the imaging service bureau. Several forms processing software vendors have taken advantage of these similarities to explore new business models based on the new ASP industry.

Canadian developer JetForm has taken the boldest step by starting the world's first application service provider business built exclusively to host forms data. ( has been running since November in America but is not available in the Asia/Pacific region. The ASP's network "hosts a catalogue of intelligent virtual business forms that can be customised, filled, issued and archived directly from the Web site", according to JetForm.

Entrust Technologies and Corel are among the supporting vendors for the site. contains a clip art gallery of 1000 images which is provided by Graphic Corp, a subsidiary of Corel., Entrust's services business, provides encryption software which protects sessions between the ASP server and business clients.

"The number of people working out of their homes and running small businesses is growing exponentially. aims to be a tool that fits into their on-the-go work environment," said Andrew Jackson, who rejoices in the title of chief visioneer for

German-based IXOS Software has also eyed off the potential of ASPs, and has decided to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary to focus on digital documentation of electronic commerce transactions. The subsidiary, which has not been named but was expected to be founded at the end of last year, will construct an "XML-based e-commerce document repository... [to] be made available as a service within a corporate portal to be hosted through application service providers", IXOS said in a statement.

The company was quick to reassure existing users of its document management software, IXOS-ARCHIVE, that it would continue to develop the application to integrate with SAP's R/3 suite of enterprise resource planning software.