Application Service Provider (ASP) is a business that delivers the service to consumers over the network. Software offered using ASP model is also called as On-demand or Software-as-a-Service(SaaS). In simple words, it can be defined as the companies who supply software applications and/or software related services over the internet. The major use of ASPs are its "pay price as per your usage" options.
ASP owns, operates and maintains the software application.
The ASP maintains the servers that run the application. Dedicated staff would be employed for such maintenance and upgrades.
The ASP makes the software available to customers for their access via the internet.
The ASP bills for the software and service provided on a per use basis or monthly/annual fee basis. Certain ASP also provide service for free.
ASP model offers significant benefits when compared to traditional applications.
ASPs are more beneficial for small businesses and startup companies because of the low cost entry and short setup time.
The concept of pay as you use is less expensive and this option makes it easy for anyone to sign up for the application or stop using the services as and when desired.
This model helps in eliminating IT resources and staff who has to maintain and upgrade the application. Since employing such resources proves to be expensive, this would further cut down your IT costs.
No IT infrastructure required for applications to use or support.
ASPs vary from one to another. Simple ASPs may include web hosting companies, email providers etc. It is also very important to make sure that the ASPs you choose will handle your data in a secure way. Here are few questionaires that should ask any ASP when selecting for one:
How customer services issues resolved? If you or your employees have questions or issues with the software then who can help you out?
How secure is the data? You need to know the internal security policies and other safeguards against any external threats that is handled by the ASPs.
How can I transfer the data to another application if I plan to move out in future? Such options are very helpful when you plan to change your vendor in future.
Can I import my old data to the new application? You have a huge list of contacts and deifnitely it is time consuming to manually add it up. Will your ASP support importing of data?
There are much more questions that you may need to ask your vendor depending on the situation and process. These related links may help you to find lot more information.
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