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IBM and Siebel are planning to tout some applications delivered over the wire. The pair are going to ASP’ify the Siebel CRM suite and offer it out to users on a monthly subscription service over the web, CNET reports.

No servers, no network. For this kind of game you just need a browser. Utility computing nirvana - something we’ve seen IBM attempt many times over the past ten years in one form or another.

The beauty of this kind of model, as touted by its numerous proponents, is two-fold: It lowers the price and removes the complexity.

The total cost of ownership (TCO) is lowered because it’s plug and play, no consultants, no hardware, no network, no support costs. The complexity comes out of the equation because the customers just use it; they don’t administer it or manage it -that’s all included in the subs.

For a firm like IBM the utility computing model has another benefit, it’s platform independent, OS independent. And we know IBM likes that, right?

One thing IBM doesn’t like though is products that don’t bring ‘pervasive’ benefits. IBM likes to sell products and services that require input from each of many divisions and operations, things that spread the revenues on an incremental basis across its girth.

IBM used to resell a utility computing service for the SME called Salesforce.com. According to the founder of Salesforce.com though, IBM stopped selling it because there were no supplementary revenues.

No supplementary revenues? Clearly IBM doesn’t see that as a problem in this instance. Siebel CRM will be an enterprise play and that means handling legacy data and apps. According to CNET the new Siebel/ IBM Utility play will be an offering coming straight out of IBM Consulting. Makes a lot of sense.

Add into that the fact that most CRM purchases are instigated by the sales and marketing functions of a business, notably not the IT function, and suddenly it starts to make even more sense.

This is IT-free IT for business people. It fits IBM’s current mantra of On Demand computing. And this might just be the official start of the stuttering utility (ASP) computing model. IT departments better brace themselves. ®

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