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The Application
Service Model
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- Data security. One of the main challenges to adoption of the ASP model is the
uncertainty that may accompany the security of proprietary information. It is com-
mon for organisations to demand more stringent security standards from ASPs than
they might impose internally.
- Service and support quality. Availability, scalability, bandwidth capacity, and data and
network redundancy are examples of performance concerns that need to be
addressed. Service level agreements (SLAs) can help to establish performance expec-
tations and ensure that both the service provider and the service user have a clear
understanding of their respective obligations and the mechanisms for resolving con-
flicts. Many SLAs do not incorporate adequate ways of measuring performance levels
and of auditing security and backup services provided by the ASP. In both of these
instances compensation for breaches of service delivery are unlikely to make up for
the losses that could be incurred.
- Scope and flexibility of services. Customers expect that their ASP will possess the neces-
sary competence to construct the appropriate implementation and infrastructure to
meet their needs. At the same time, they expect their specific needs to be addressed.
This balance is not easy to achieve. For fields such as library management systems
this might not be too serious a problem, since such systems are based on widely
accepted standards and levels of service.
- Adaptability of software. Little software today is truly Web-enabled.Widespread
take-up of ASP services and their cost-effective delivery depend upon the increased
availability of Web-enabled applications.
- Financial security.When evaluating an ASP, potential customers should consider the
provider's financial status, customer base, business experience, and profit strategy,
regardless of whether the customer has making a profit a primary objective.
- Coping with unexpected circumstances. Potential customers should examine worst-
possible-scenario situations before signing up with an ASP. Does the ASP distribute
its data service? What back-up auditing services do they have in place? What is the
maximum downtime in the event of a disaster? What levels of redundancy do they
have in place?
- Audit. Does the ASP have arrangements for independent audit of its services and
working practices?
Where ASPs are Currently Used
A 2001 study
7
found the most popular ASP applications in the US to be: communica-
tions (33.6%), financial and accounting (24.8%), e-commerce (21.2%), CRM
8
(19.0%),
education and training (18.2%), human resources 13.1%), project management (9.5%).
Details of the primary fields where ASP services are offered are easily identified by visit-
ing www.aspstreet.com or www.internetasplist.com.While the cultural heritage sector
does not yet appear in these, there are examples of companies outsourcing management
7
ASP e-data:Top ASP Applications are Communications, financial ZONA Research tracks market opportunities,
February 2001, http://www.itaa.org/isec/pubs/e20012-05.pdf
8
See Bob Weinstein, "ASPs grab a Piece of CRM Market" in ASPStreet (April 2003) for more on the
relationship between this technology (covered in DigiCULT Technology Watch Report 1, pp. 21-39) and the
growth of application service providers. http://www.aspstreet.com/archive/d.taf/sid,25/id,18541
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