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Rental looms high in the office of the future

SMALL businesses should soon be able to hire the same high-end software used by big business.

A number of companies are setting themselves up as Applications Service Providers – a sort of Coates Hire for the software world.

WA-based Chrome Global has been providing high-end software such as Oracle Financials, other Oracle and Oracle-related products to clients on a pay-per-month basis for some time.

Chrome Global managing director Kevin Baum said a lot of businesses did not have the facilities to run major Information Technology systems “yet they want the benefits of them”.

However, he does not believe software rental will work with low-end applications such as word processing packages.

Mr Baum said software rental was in its infancy.

“I think people are looking at the models but it’s still a bit of an education process,” he said.

“I don’t think the models for it are fully mature yet but we’re confident we have some of the processes right.”

Telstra has also entered the Application Service Provider arena, trial renting Microsoft Office 2000 to a number of different users.

Instead of buying the package, users download it from Telstra every time they want to use it.

The trial is also for Microsoft’s benefit. The US software giant wants information on the renting patterns of business for further product development.

Telstra manager e-Market development Andrew Grill said it made sense for business to rent software rather than buying it and installing it themselves.

“Installing software is not a core competency for most small businesses,” Mr Grill said.

“Users hiring software will receive updated versions the moment those upgrades became available.

“It also helps to prevent software piracy.

“And the data you use can either be stored locally or centrally.”

Mr Grill said software renting would cause some businesses to put in a dedicated Internet line rather than relying on dial-up connections.

“We’re looking at vertical markets and portals. Small businesses won’t want to go hunting on the Internet for rental software,” he said.

Mr Grill said the trial had gone well.

“It has helped us work out how it all goes together,” he said.

WA-based computer and software renter RentSmart has taken a different approach to the online rental, linking with ColesMyer electronic retailer ht.com.au.

Customers buying software from the site can opt to use the RentSmart payment option, meaning they will pay a rental fee instead of paying full price for the software.

RentSmart managing director Ned Montarello said the credit approval for the RentSmart option could be completed online.

“We can approve a customer’s credit in five minutes,” he said.

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