TECH TALK: The Coming Age of ASPs: Technology Building Blocks (Part 3)

4. Single Sign-On

Identity Management is the broader theme. Access to applications and processes can be controlled via an identity manager, and users can be given a single login and password which works across all the applications. Companies like Oblix offer services in this space.

5. Ajax

Ajax was coined by Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path. It uses a combination of asynchronous Javascript and XML to create rich client applications. What is interesting about the Ajax idea as demonstrated in Googles use for its Maps and Suggest feature is that it can help creative interactive client-side applications and potentially also reduce the bandwidth needed for server-side interactions. This could be very useful for SMEs in Emerging Markets (SMEEMs) because the broadband infrastructure is not yet fully in place.

6. Thin Clients and LAN-Grid

One of the key factors in ensuring the success of both the automation of SMEEMs and the ASP model is that there will be a computer on every desktop in the enterprises. We are still far away from this reality. In countries like India, perhaps there is just over 1 computer for every 10 employees who need to process information across the 40 million who work in 4 million SMEs. Putting the computing infrastructure in place is therefore a critical part of ensuring the success of the ASP model.

It should be possible to build a thin client for no more than $110 (Rs 5,000) about $70 for the computer and $40 for a refurbished monitor. (A new monitor would add about $40 to the cost.) The thin client itself would have the guts of a cellphone with the capability to run Linux, a browser, and support remote desktops so as to shift processing and storage to the server. It would also have the capability to connect key drives via the USB ports. By using the chips used in mobile phones, we can dramatically reduce the cost of building a thin client. [For comparison purposes, an x86-based thin client would probably cost about 70% more at $120.]

Besides making computing affordable, thin clients also increase manageability since these computers would not fall prey to viruses, require no upgrades for 5-7 years (or even longer), and have no local hard disks on which users could load their own programs. Thus, the thin clients can be remotely managed reducing the total cost of ownership.

Complementing the thin clients would be a LAN-Grid a server-centric computing platform which would deliver the necessary applications. It would centralise all processing and storage. The estimated cost for a LAN-Grid infrastructure would be about $50 per user, given a minimum of 20 users in an enterprise. The LAN-Grid can be managed and updated remotely.

Taken together, the thin clients and LAN-Grid can help create a 1:1 computing infrastructure (one employee, one desktop) for as little as $160 in capital expenditure. Amortised over a 4 year period, the cost per user would work out to less than $5 per month, even assuming some server maintenance and upgrade costs. By ensuring that every user in the enterprise has a desktop connected to the Internet, ASPs can get a jumpstart for their services.

Next Week: The Coming Age of ASPs (continued)

TECH TALK The Coming Age of ASPs+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.