Does this ASP have bite?

An application service provider (ASP) is in the business of offering your organization access, for a fee, to a remotely hosted computer application. Your users most likely would access the application using Internet protocols and a standard Web browser. The ASP takes care of all the details arranging for computers to run the application, software and hardware maintenance, and their side of the telecommunications connection.

An application service provider (ASP) is in the business of offering your

organization access, for a fee, to a remotely hosted computer application.

Your users most likely would access the application using Internet protocols

and a standard Web browser. The ASP takes care of all the details — arranging

for computers to run the application, software and hardware maintenance,

and their side of the telecommunications connection.

Sounds a lot like time sharing to a guy who grew up with Control Data's

Cybernet and its competitors such as Service Bureau Co. and Infonet.

The benefits of application outsourcing are pretty clear. Agencies are

not, in general, chartered to do software development and computer center

operations. If those activities could be handled by a specialist, it's logical

that the overall cost associated with those systems could be lowered and

service improved.

But agencies will soon find that the quality of an ASP arrangement largely

depends on the fine print in the contract.

Cost is a central issue. If you don't currently measure how much it

costs to operate and maintain a computer system, you can't tell what's a

fair price to pay an ASP to run it for you.

On the business side, the ASP contract must define ownership of data

and software modifications, along with the protocol for requesting data

and the format and timeliness of delivery. Otherwise, you can wind up being

held hostage (intentionally or otherwise) in the event of a dispute or a

decision by the agency to take the systems work back in-house.

You also need technical controls, including a service level agreement

that specifies reliability and availability. For example, an uptime of 99.9

percent with a response time of two seconds or less sounds good, but those

terms need to be thoroughly defined, along with who is responsible for what.

For example, the application could be running just fine, but it doesn't

do you any good if the network is down. And it may not be immediately clear

whose network, gateway or router is down. For those kinds of situations,

it's good to designate the ASP as the prime contractor and hold them responsible

for the Internet service provider performance. The last thing you want to

do is try to negotiate multiple contracts simultaneously.

Another issue involves soft-ware maintenance. Frequently, software licenses

are written to allow access to an application for the authors and the end

user, and nobody else. Since the ASP's staff is supposed to be taking care

of the application for you, you must ensure that it has the tools to do

its job, including access to source code for modifications, if necessary.

You also need to specify some reasonable security measures, including

protections against denial-of-service attacks like those recently in the

news.

Like seat management, ASP relationships can be a step toward turning

information processing into a utility, paid for as it's used. Done right,

taxpayers and agencies can share the rewards.

— Bragg is an independent consultant and systems architect with extensive

experience in the federal market. He welcomes your questions and topic suggestions

at tbragg@fcw.com.

NEXT STORY: Study: West Coast in digital lead

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.