AT&T Unveils ASP Strategy

AT&T today unveiled its "EcoSystems for ASPs" program, under which it will offer software vendors most everything--including facilities, bandwidth, and support services--needed to become an application service provider and rent applications to users.

But for IT executives, the more immediate aspect of the strategy is AT&T's Intelligent Content Distribution Service, which it developed with Inktomi, Novell, and Infolibria, and storage services developed with EMC Corp.

AT&T has been quietly selling the former, which improves Web-site performance and will compete with similar offerings from Akamai Technologies, Adero, and Digital Island, as part of a controlled introduction that precedes an unspecified general availability. The company did say that service pricing will start at a flat $12,000 a month per 10 Mbps of bandwidth used to deliver a customer's Web-site content cached in the AT&T network. The service is available in 1 Mbps increments, with businesses that use more than 100 Mbps a month billed under a custom arrangement.

One analyst says the content-delivery service could be particularly attractive to customers. "Although AT&T's ASP strategy is robust and will attract interest because of its completeness, the content-delivery service is the hidden part of this plan that translates into something that customers will be able to benefit from first," says Daniel Briere, president of consulting firm TeleChoice Inc.

In addition to existing services such as hosting facilities, Internet backbone bandwidth, and co-marketing options, AT&T has also partnered with Sun Microsystems for application testing facilities.

Although AT&T is spending $250 million on infrastructure to address this market, its executives--like those at MCI WorldCom--claim they have no foreseeable plans to become an ASP themselves and sell software seat licenses for business applications or in any way touch hosted applications.

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