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The concept underlying ASPs was developed in the 1960s and was exemplified by the
timesharing of mainframe applications. Now it combines new facilities for delivering data,
software and services over the Internet.Thus, the fundamental shift is in the way organi-
sations acquire and utilise their business functionality.Timesharing all but disappeared
as minicomputers and eventually PCs became cheaper and more efficient. Factors that
contributed to the rebirth of rental schemes include:
- The model provides small and medium-sized companies with a level of service that
they could not otherwise justify financially.
- The model gives maximum flexibility to the customer, organised on a 24x7x365
basis.This contributes to increased market competitiveness, which will be of
special importance for organisations that depend on e-commerce but that cannot
maintain round-the-clock support for their technical services.
- By reducing the total cost of operation (TCO), ASPs offer organisations the ability
to use a broader suite of applications than they could otherwise afford.
- The Internet has become more popular, faster and more secure, thus increasing the
chances for stable development.
- The dramatic fall in telecommunication costs combined with the speed and robust-
ness of modern communications services has made remote ASP provision viable.
In a traditional setting, the ASP owns the hardware, the software licences, and employs
the technical staff.This leads to one essential problem with the ASP model: while services
can be customised to some extent, ASPs tend to offer standard solutions, which may not
meet entirely the specialised needs of some customers. For this reason, ASP providers
tend to concentrate on specific, niche business areas, ensuring that the services they offer
are as close to those required or desired by their target market(s). It is also possible to mix
and match ASP solutions with standard software packages on a modular basis.
Principles of ASPs
Fundamentally, ASP technology offers shared access to software and computer infra-
structure services at lower costs than would be possible on an individual basis. Using
ASPs, IT departments in cultural heritage institutions will not be involved in the devel-
opment of specialised software from scratch, but will concentrate on local maintenance
and customisation. ASP brings the cultural heritage sector access to integrated systems
without the costs of in-house development, maintenance or operation.The number of
support staff can be reduced, as can the need for high-end servers. Responsibility for data
security and server level backups can be transferred to the ASP.
ASPs: Putting Fears to Rest
Confidence is a vital factor in the adoption of any technology.With ASPs, for example,
many risk-conscious decision-makers will feel uneasy about the prospect of handing
their control over storage and dispersal to a third-party organisation. Other concerns
that often delay institutional acceptance of the ASP model include:
The Application
Service Model
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