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Managing Your ASP: Selecting Someone Who Can Grow with You

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If you're considering outsourcing any application to an ASP for hosting, be sure to get past the industry-standard Service Level Agreement (SLA) to what really matters.
Louis Columbus is the author of 12 books and more than 40 articles on the Internet, e-commerce, and computing topics, including Realizing e-Business with Application Service Providers

The Application Service Provider (ASP) model is attracting more companies than ever before, giving you a greater selection when considering outsourcing. Yet getting the best possible performance from an ASP takes more than just the standard Service Level Agreement (SLA). Going above this agreement is the mark of an ASP that's capable of making strong contributions to your business.

Focus on metrics that matter to your business. Managing an ASP by metrics of scalability and performance spells the difference between growth or stagnation of your business.

Finding a Technology Partner That Can Grow with You

First, it's important to find out if the application service provider can go the distance with your company as it grows. Being able to handle an increasing number of transactions and inquiries of your databases, as well as the increasing number of employees querying and using applications, contribute to the need for having a highly scalable solution from the application service provider. Regardless of the number of ASPs, a consistency of scalability needs to be strongly present in each of the companies you partner with.

A term that's much used today, scalability is defined as the capability of a computer application or product (hardware or software) to continue to function well as it changes in size or volume to meet a user need. Another definition of scalability that's being actively promoted in the context of e-business is the capability of a server, application, or Web site not only to function well in the rescaled situation, but also to take full advantage of it. For example, an application program would be scalable if it could be moved from a smaller to a larger operating system and take full advantage of the larger operating system in terms of performance (user response time and so forth) and the larger number of users that could be handled. Table 1 shows metrics that highlight the need for having an ASP that can truly scale with your business. Scalability can spell the difference between your company reaching its full potential or not.

Table 1

Transaction Site Growth and Architecture Shows the Scalability Needed to Sustain a Growing E-Business

Page View Growth (Monthly)

Number of Page Views (Daily)

Commerce Transaction Growth (Monthly)

Number of Commerce Transactions (Daily)

Average Transaction Value (Monthly)





















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