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SAP Application Service Provider (ASP)  

The ASP model has emerged over the past two years as one of the foremost global trends driving phenomenal growth in the applications outsourcing market.

Application service providers allow companies to leverage the technologies, processes, and expertise of the leading software platform providers, all without having to make the substantial IT investments usually required for such systems. 

Certain ASP's are offering SAP's entire ERP application suite. SAP is also planning to spin-off an ASP company. The SAP spin-off will manage SAP's relationship with ASPs, but it also will compete with them.

Advantages of SAP/ASP: 

  • Platform expertise and flexibility
    ASP can support software and platform of your choice. ASP provides expertise with 
    the technology to support your needs, especially for application customization and 
    integration with your company's and your business partners' existing systems.
    ASP will provide the tools to monitor your application remotely and reconfigure it 
    as required.
  • Infrastructure
    ASP's can support your company's E-business needs as user volume, transaction load, 
    and data storage needs increase over time. 
  • Architecture
    ASP's architecture provides high-speed connections and a Web application server infrastructure to promote scalability, performance, and fault tolerance.
  • Security
    ASP or its data center partners provide well-documented security for the physical site-- including 24-hour guards, video monitoring, alarm systems, and facility access control 
    (such as key cards, biometrics, etc.). In addition, the ASP also provides security at both the application and data levels. Ask about the ASP's approach to network security, firewalls, 
    data transmission encryption, data storage encryption, intrusion detection, virus detection, and virtual private network support. Finally, ensure that the ASP's approach meets your own security requirements and that it keeps your data independent of its other customers.
  • Global Support
    ASPs can support localized versions of a company's applications in different languages, with 
    support for the different currencies, date formats, transaction processing, and other things that may vary from country to country.
  • Level of Service
    An outsourced application requires many things, so ensure that your expected level of service is received. If your business needs are 24 hours a day--with guaranteed performance levels, security policies, and documented backup procedures--make sure the ASP's service-level agreement covers them.
  • Pricing Structure
    Different ASPs charge differently for their services. For example, some ASPs charge on a per-user basis, while others charge on a per-transaction basis. Also, some have additional charges for software licenses and the number of servers or CPUs used within their data centers, while others charge based on data storage volume. Also ASPs charge for 
    customization, professional services, customer service, and software maintenance.

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