Brad Feld

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ASP = SaaS = Cloud = ?

Aug 19, 2008

Matt McAdams has a clever blog up titled Up next: telesoftware!  He discusses the rise of our favorite new buzzword (hint: it’s "Cloud Computing") and spends some time harkening back to its origin (hint: it’s the "Application Service Provider.")

I was around at the birth of the ASP as the co-chairman of one of the early ASPs (Interliant) which started out life in 1996 as a "web hosting company" (how passe) and evolved in 1997 into an Application Service Provider.  I clearly remember the tech media latching onto the ASP label at the end of the 1990’s right alongside prefixing everything with a lowercase e and postfixing everything with ".com". 

The cynics were simple minded – they simply referred to the ASPs as the return of mainframe – or even better – timesharing.  Interliant enjoyed rapid growth and a brief period of what looked like success before being decimated during the collapse of the Internet bubble.

Platform-as-a-Service has emerged suddenly with a vengeance.  IBM System/370 anyone?  The S/370 had this nifty thing called "virtual memory", which evolved into VM, which lives on today as the great new "virtualization" trend.

Telesoftware?  Nah – that sounds too much like Telemedicine (what ever happened to that one?)  I think we are going to be talking about "planetary computing" once "cloud computing" runs its course since "Sun computing" has already come and mostly gone.