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Investing in Alternative Solutions for Delivering Technology




Feb 2, 2001


Dr. Randal Pinkett

The point regarding data being held captive by an ASP is on point and something we have wrestled with in our discussions regarding ASP deployment.

I think the challenge/opportunity for ASPs will be to ensure that existing and emerging applications can be delivered through a coherent framework, meaning a single web-based user interface. In other words, since the switching cost can be prohibitively high to move from one ASP to another, we must ensure that architectures scale easily and are receptive to adding new features/services/applications. This is particularly true with the rapid pace of innovation.

If not, the use of ASPs will be fragmented across various providers, with data scattered amongst them. This is an exaggerated example scenario, but it makes my point: our organization has one ASP for our webmail, another ASP for our discussion forums, another ASP for our member profiles, another ASP for our internal record keeping, etc., and none of them are integrated with the other.

If architectures cannot scale easily, we may prevent non-profits from benefiting from what is available, or we may force them to change providers, thus incurring costs for repurposing data (mentioned in previous postings to the listserv) and perhaps necessitating a complete redesign of their sites or user interfaces. They shouldn't have to go through that pain just because they wanted to add chat rooms and the ASP couldn't provide it or wanted to charge an exorbitant amount to do it.

It is possible that technologies such as XML will at least make it easier to share data between applications, but that does not completely solve the problem. Co-operatives like the ones mentioned by Mario are definitely necessary.


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