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Application Service Provider

Application service provider is a kind of remote software that is accessible through a simple web browser. There would be no need of installing megabytes of software on a personal computer; all you need to do is to rent the ASP software that is available elsewhere on the Internet. ASP software can never be really owned, it just can be borrowed for a subscription fee. It can also be defined as Software as a Service (SaaS).

With a configured web browser and right plugins, users will be able to remote-access the rented software through the Internet. In several cases, the ASP server can be located thousands of kilometres away. But as long as you have a high-speed internet connection, the distance seems to be an irrelevant issue for concern. ASP users save their work to the ASP server and perform all their daily software tasks in the web browser interface.

An application service provider, also known as ASP, is a company offering enterprises or individuals case-specific access to apps and/or other services either over the applications and/or app-related services over the internet. ASP has now been replaced by the term SaaS (software as a service) provider, although the two terms are often used interchangeably, one for the other.

Application service provider’s services became a crucial aspect of running a business in the decade. ASP was an important alternative for both individuals and smaller companies running is shoe-string budget. Businesses relying on outsourcing also began exploring their options with ASP because it provided them with a custom business solution that catered to their needs well. Early ASPs focused on solutions that were somewhat expensive and could not garner as much attention as it was expected to. In layman terms, the ASP customer is required to purchase the software license and then pay a provider of his choice to host it. 

An ASP provides its services over the internet instead of alternate business solutions. The ASP software typically comes free, it is the service and support that is chargeable. But, this should not be taken as hard and fast rule, services and charges vary from ASPs to ASPs. A multi-tenant version of this model can also be opted to; this model is commonly known as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service).

ASP services have become a very cost-effective alternative to actually owning a software, especially for MSMEs and businesses with limited IT budget. Enterprises have started using Application Service Provider’s services for outsourcing their services.

The advantages of using ASP include – 

  • Reduced upfront costs
  • IT capital expenditure, 
  • Access to expertise
  • Better software and hardware maintenance
  • Enhanced collaboration 
  • Adherence to a specialized application that would otherwise be too costly to install and maintain

The bottom line being, ASPs make services less expensive and software more affordable. Providing automatic upgrades is also one of the most revered features of application service provider. Application service providers also created the concept of clubbing the entire processing and computing in a central system for the sake of making things more centralized and easily manageable. Accessing a single centralized copy of a software is easier than buying and maintaining several copies on individual computers.

ASP clients access the software using remote-access software or through a desktop connection from a pre-configured web plugin or from a browser. ASPs can locate their server anywhere, regardless of the location where the client is situated. But to facilitate faster access, services are hosted on the server nearest to the client (nearer the server, faster the data transfer in and out of the system). 

The ASP (application service provider) includes the following features in its business model:

  • Owning and operating software and various applications
  • Maintaining web servers that support the software
  • Pay as you use model of billing. Or, choose to get billed monthly or once every year. 
  • Relay information and direction through the internet

In typical ASP model of delivery, customers usually purchase the software, choose their providers and pay the ASP to host and manage. In contrast, vendors of SaaS manage the software on their own. Often times, the software is developed by the SaaS provider itself.

Traditional ASPs have been using the single-tenant model. The software clients in such business modes had to be installed on the end clients’ workstation. SaaS provider prefers an architecture that supports the multi-tenant model. 

Customers who prefer providers that will host customized, business-specific applications still have the option to choose an application service provider with a separate business pillar for single-tenant services.

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