For some apps, an ASP could be right on the money

For some apps, an ASP could be right on the money

BY KEVIN JONAH'|'SPECIAL TO GCN

An alternative to a huge enterprise software rollout is to purchase the software as a service through an application service provider.

Though the ASP concept has been slow to catch on with government agencies, the approach offers a way for agencies to more quickly roll out electronic-government initiatives without the burden of managing the software configuration.

And though outsourcing to ASPs might not be popular with agencies, many are adopting the ASP technology to create an application hosting capability within their own operations.

ASPs essentially are outsourcers. They initially were almost entirely on the Internet, but some now provide services on-site to address problems such as over-the-wire performance and data security.

An ASP's biggest attraction is that it can take some of the sting out of the massive expenses of an enterprise software project. But the savings usually come from an ASP's turnkey services, so if your agency has specialized needs, an ASP might not be an option.

ASPs also supply single-vendor accountability: the proverbial 'one neck to choke' when things go wrong. All the integrating of hardware and disparate software are the responsibility of the ASP. The process, theoretically, is transparent to the user.

Large players'both consulting companies and the enterprise software companies'are angling to provide application services.

Accenture of Chicago has won a contract to provide financial application services [GCN, April 2, Page 32] to the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, using PeopleSoft Inc.'s Financial Management for Education and Government software and other PeopleSoft modules. USinternetworking Inc. of Annapolis, Md., will host the program.

Several federal agencies have put themselves into the ASP business with help from PeopleSoft software. The Treasury Department has an enterprise license for the software and has created a single data center to serve each of its bureaus, just like an internal ASP.

And the Veterans Affairs Department hosts human resources and payroll applications for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission'though these functions will later be transferred to Accenture and USi.

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