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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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ASP = SaaS = Cloud = ?

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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.")Timeline of cloud computing buzzwords

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.

  • http://qwang.net Q dub

    I was explaining SaaS and cloud computing to someone who's been out of touch with tech for the past couple years. The best analogy I ended with were:

    It's like webmail, remember when you dumped outlook express? Like that. Cloud computing? Remember all the buzz about thin clients? It's the same thing, now your browser is like a thin client.

  • http://donaldryan.net Don

    Telemedicine met the internet: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/eclevelandclinic/de

  • http://clickbrain.com Brad Nickel

    That is hilarious, I just wrote about this today and our days at Interliant. I am constantly having to write as VP of Appsonline one of the first web-based ASPs(application service provider) known today as SaaS (Software as a Service) Cracks me up.

  • http://friendfeed.com/bradnickel Brad Nickel

    That is hilarious, I just wrote about this today and our days at Interliant. I am constantly having to write as VP of Appsonline one of the first web-based ASPs(application service provider) known today as SaaS (Software as a Service) Cracks me up.

  • Steve Bergstein

    Didn't you build a telemedicine application once upon a time? Something with images of x-rays maybe?

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Ah – you have an excellent memory.  That was “DataVision” that I did with John Underkoffler when I was a sophomore.  We wrote some software for cephalographic analysis and when that didn’t go anywhere started working on telemedicine apps using x-rays.  When that didn’t go anywhere the business failed and shut down.

      • Steve Bergstein

        And these days, they have radiologists in India reading x-rays taken in the US (see http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=95…for example). You were just too far ahead of your time.

        Memory is a screwed up thing. A girl (now, of course, a woman) I met in Israel in 1983 and corresponded with last in 83 or 84 contacted me on Facebook recently. I think that I shocked her when I remembered her street address, town, and UK postal code.

  • http://www.ajira.com Nari Kannan

    How about Browserware?

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