The sagging economy has helped, not hurt, WorldCom's hosting services.

The sagging economy has helped, not hurt, WorldComs hosting services.

More companies are looking to save money by outsourcing, and WorldComs emphasis on managed hosting, instead of colocation, is attractive to them.

"Were seeing a change," says Ron McMurtrie, vice president of e-services. "The slowdown in the economy has created a business boom for us."

WorldCom, with CEO Bernard J. Ebbers at the helm, provides hosting for more than 10,000 customers worldwide, from small entities to global giants. Smaller customers can share servers with other businesses, while large or special customers can opt for custom or multiserver services.

About two-thirds of WorldComs U.S. hosting business is made up of enterprise customers, while the other third includes Internet service providers, application service providers and other emergent providers, McMurtrie says.

WorldCom provides some colocation services to businesses that have the in-house resources to manage and maintain Web operations.

Although WorldComs acquisition of Intermedia Communications isnt final, it already has reinforced WorldComs hosting business. Intermedia owns 81 percent of Digex, a hosting company with 2000 revenue of $168.1 million. While Digex will remain a separately traded company, WorldCom and Digex are leveraging resources. Digex now has access to WorldComs world Internet Protocol network, while WorldCom taps Digexs hosting expertise.

The pairing "gives us an 18-month advantage on any of our competitors," McMurtrie says.

WorldCom has introduced 18 bundled hosting options, ranging from basic to high-end packages of infrastructure, network, management and monitoring. It demystifies purchasing and speeds activation for customers, McMurtrie says, adding that early customer response has been positive.

WorldCom will expand its hosting business to Asia and Europe next month. Besides its packaged offerings, the company plans to add voice portals and managed storage to its colocation products by midyear. It also has introduced WorldCom Web Center, an Internet-based customer-service application service.

"We very much see ourselves as innovators in our space," McMurtrie says.