‘The Indian ASP cake has not gone stale’

Allan Pettit, vice-president, Asia-Pacific, Citrix SystemsA
global leader in application server software and services, Citrix Systems Inc.,
has been on the forefront of the ASP movement. The company also offers what it
calls ‘digital independence’–the ability to run any application on any
device over any connection. Citrix also boasts the MetaFrame range of products,
targeting the entire market spectrum from major enterprises to emerging
application service providers. The company’s stable also has the NFuse
application portal software and independent computing architecture (ICA), a core
application-server technology widely adopted by the corporate mainstream–99%
of Fortune 100, 80% of Fortune 500 in the US, and 56% of the Financial Times FT
500 firms in Europe use it. A pioneer in the ASP market, Citrix is also a
founding member of the ASP Industry Consortium, an international advocacy group
of companies formed to promote the emerging industry. In his recent visit to
India, Allan Pettit, vice-president, Asia-Pacific, Citrix Systems spoke to
DATAQUEST about the ASP scenario and how Citrix plans to push itself in India as
well as globally. Excerpts:

On the present day ASP space…

Certain quarters of the press perceive that the ASP process has slowed down.
We don’t see it that way. We think it is going through an evolution and this
development process is necessary. Every time there is a new business opportunity
as promising as the ASP model, it triggers the herd effect with everybody
rushing towards it. The fact is that not everybody is going to be successful in
this space. Hence, there have those who have fallen. Some of the smaller players
are having a hard time, but then, that is inevitable with the model itself
continuing to evolve and develop. The several pieces of this evolution have been
working towards making this model attractive, affordable and profitable. That is
what the ASP consortium is all about, where all the members are working together
to find a model that makes sense and would drive the opportunity because
potential is huge. For example, in India, we are talking about 70 million-plus
Internet users by 2003-end, with a lot of companies interested in reaching this
user-market.

On the Gartner report, which suggests that nearly 60% of all ASPs would be
wiped out by the year-end…

I think it would be the economies of scale that would finally dictate success
in the ASP marketplace…not too different from the ISP market. Size has been a
big factor for them and I think it will be an important factor for the ASP model
too. However, there is definitely space for small and medium ASPs, but only very
focussed ones. If they try to be all things for all people, it will be tough to
survive. Yes, there will be a shakeout, but I think a shakeout is natural, it is
healthy and in the end, we will have products capable of delivering as per
promise.

On the direction and business model the ASP consortium is looking at…

I don’t think anything has been specifically identified. This is a
constantly evolving segment and I don’t believe anybody can have the answer to
that in even the next 12 months. People’s perception of an ASP model is
certainly different today than what it was a year ago and I think it would be
much different 12 months from now. It is a new concept and throws up lots of
challenges. A lot of thought is required to drive this business.

On Citrix’s role in the evolution process…

We are in the business of pushing applications. We are working with a number
of ASPs and network service providers, partnering to meet market demand. We are
also simultaneously targeting the market for web-based applications through new
products and technology enhancements to MetaFrame.

The beauty of an ASP is that it makes available applications on a turnkey
basis for mass use by an enterprise, which otherwise would have been a drain on
time and monies. An increasing number of companies are recognizing Citrix and
want us to deliver such applications. The ASP model and the Internet open up
tremendous revenue opportunities for these companies and we see ourselves as the
platform for delivering these applications.

Citrix’s application server solution facilitates the broad deployment of
business applications in a variety of computing scenarios, including the ASP
model. By enabling usage-based application delivery over the web and VPNs with
maximum system reliability, security and end-user performance, our technology
allows ASPs to guarantee high levels of service to the customers.

On new Citrix products propelling the ASP push…

We will continue to build on the existing MetaFrame technology. The ASP model
has also invoked interest for extended server farm capabilities and allowing
functionality to be built around it. This is what our new MetaFrame XP range
aims to facilitate–the ability to manage applications and servers,
irrespective of the number of servers; the ability to manage traffic on server
or application basis. We are actually talking about the ability to load-manage a
server farm, right down to the application level.

The increasing adoption of Windows 2000 and the growing customer demand for
web-based application delivery and access have combined to create an ideal
environment for this highly-scalable and robust product family. MetaFrame XP
contains a new platform design, integrated platform management and family
packaging that allows customers to effectively groom their application serving
platform to fit specific needs.

On the market potential of these products in India…

The Indian market is no different from anywhere else. The challenge here is
the same as the one we faced in Japan three years ago, the need to educate users
about server-based computing. It is a new concept and people need to be made
aware of the benefits; they need to experience it through pilots. We have done
fundamental groundwork and have success stories to share with them. We hope to
do that through seminars and conferences.

More and more Indian companies are going global and fast becoming mobile. The
number of devices that people use to access information is growing–whether it’s
the simple telephone, the thin client, the fat client…the list goes on. These
changes warrant server-based computing and it is no longer limited to the IT
sector. Rather, it has become a must for all mobile workforces across industry.
This is the market for Citrix. We are there in 80% of the Fortune 500 list and
there is business for us in any organization that is growing. Another growing
opportunity for us is the call center market coming up in India in a big way.

Shubhendu Parth in New Delhi

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