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Siemens offers ASP tech support for small businesses

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Siemens is looking to tap into the small business market with an office application package from its ASP division, Solution 1, designed specifically for businesses with between five and ten employees.

Solution 1 Lite will provide the smallest of UK businesses with secure remote access email, a broadband connection, and the ability for users to share calendar and contact details and other collaborative working information for £150 per month.

The service is provided via a broadband connection and online Microsoft Exchange accounts with 100MB of storage space for each employee. Companies can opt for a more economical self-install or an assisted install option, which provides a telephone helpdesk support option.

Fraser Anderson, Solution 1's managing director, said: "By offering our service on a per-user-per month fee companies can establish a sophisticated IT system with £1,000s worth of security without having to make any investment in the kit themselves. The service is very cost effective for companies with between 10 and 50 employees, and with the introduction of Solution 1 Lite we can now offer the same promise to companies of five or more."

ASP services, much hyped by the IT industry two or three years ago, are these days seldom mentioned in the public prints but that's not to say vendors have turned their back on the model - far from it. Numerous firms (many listed here) continue to promote the idea that its makes more sense to rent software applications as a service, rather than own them outright.

For large system vendors, like Siemens, and telcos the ASP model provides a route to service the potentially lucrative, but difficult to exploit, SME marketplace.

Compared to others in the sector, Solution1's per site pricing appears high and for those blessed with tech-savvy staff cheaper alternatives exist. However for many small firms outsourcing IT requirements makes sense and price is a secomdary concern to reliability and support. In those instances (and particularly for small office environments), services like Solution 1 Lite come into their own. ®

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