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The Application
Service Model
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providers, and the resulting agreements defined in a service level agreement (SLA). An
SLA, or statement of service level (SSL), is an agreement (sometimes issued as a contract)
between an ASP and a customer which defines the minimum required system perform-
ance, availability, and financial penalties claimable in case of service shortfalls.
In the cultural and scientific heritage sector, ASP technology is most frequently
employed for collection management purposes. Libraries are able to lease access to an
Internet service instead of obtaining and maintaining their own library management
system (LMS), and without the expense of purchasing new hardware and specialised
software, or training dedicated technical staff members. Shared LMSs can be implemented
among a number of libraries, and this is generally most successful for those of small and
medium size.The current and potential uses of ASP in the cultural heritage sector are
outlined explicitly in this section's three case studies.The first two studies on
REGNET
and OpenHeritage provide an enticing glimpse of the possibilities offered
by ASP technology and shared methodologies (even at this early stage in its development),
as well as suggesting future uses to which it may be put as prices fall and the idea of out-
sourced and shared hardware/services becomes more widely accepted.The third case
study on the Corcoran Library shows the benefits that can be gained from ASP
deployment on a smaller and more immediately practical scale.The use of ASP in
libraries and archives is expanded in the scenarios which follow, coupled with valuable
advice for those with a new-found interest in the technology. It is expected that develop-
ments in this area will lead to the formation of larger virtual repositories, each made up
of resources from different heritage institutions and hosted by ASPs.
1
This seems very
promising, but before it will take off much work needs to be done on rights manage-
ment and interoperability.The current development of e-book technologies, which will
influence the whole concept of digital library services, supports this.
2
In time these
developments should lead to libraries increasingly adopting the role of content providers,
a role for which ASPs may be helpful, and for which even smaller libraries ought to be
prepared.
A n I n t ro d u c t i o n t o t h e Te c h n o l o g y
Background
When the Internet first started to reach the public consciousness in the 1990s, aca-
demics and researchers saw in it possibilities for the distribution of information. As
Internet users began to number in the tens of millions, its possibilities as an environment
for business started to emerge. One of the most interesting and potentially revolutionary
business models that the Web has enabled is known as the Application Service Provider
(ASP) model for data storage, manipulation and distribution.
3
1
DAEDALUS, Eprints, and ROMEO are just a few of the projects involved in such an approach.
http://www.lib.gla.ac.uk/daedalus; http://www.eprints.org;
http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/ls/disresearch/romeo/index.html.
2
E-books are forging links with XML. See Erin Joyce's article (April 2003) at
http://www.atnewyork.com/news/article.php/2174291 for details of the overlap.
3
The acronym should not be confused with that of Active Server Pages, a Microsoft technology
similar to PHP and Cold Fusion, used for creating dynamic and interactive Web content.
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