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A Winning Combination: Software-as-Services Plus Business Consulting and Process Services
By Laurie McCabe
January 30, 2004

Application Service Provider Infrastructure Provider (AIP)
An application infrastructure provider is a hosting provider that offers a full set of infrastructure services for hosting online applications.

Application Service Provider (ASP)>
An ASP is a third party entity that deploys, hosts and manages access to a packaged application and delivers software-based services and solutions to customers across a wide area network from a central data center. Applications are delivered over networks on a subscription or rental basis. In essence, ASPs are a way for companies to outsource some or almost all aspects of their information technology needs. ASPnews.com breaks the industry into five subcategories:
  • Enterprise ASPs — deliver high-end business applications.
  • Local/Regional ASPs — supply wide variety of application services for smaller businesses in a local area.
  • Specialist ASPs — provide applications for a specific need, such as Web site services or human resources.
  • Vertical Market ASPs — provide support to a specific industry such as healthcare
  • Volume Business ASPs — supply general small/medium-sized businesses with prepackaged application services in volume. ASPs also may be commercial ventures that cater to customers, or not-for-profit or government organizations, providing service and support to end users.

A business that utilizes an ASP model.

Asynchronous Transfer Mode. Information transfer standard for routing high speed, high band traffic such as real time voice, video and general data bits.

Application Programming Interface. A specific method prescribed by a computer operating system or another application by programmer can make requests of the specific software.

A centralized high-speed network that connects smaller independent networks.

Baseband Transmission
A type of digital data transmission in which each medium (wire) carries only one signal, or channel, at a time. In contrast, broadband transmission (such as television) enables a single wire to carry multiple signals simultaneously. Most communications involving computers uses baseband transmission.

Burst Information Rate
The speed rate for delivering information over a network that a customer may require from an application.
Business Services Provider (BSP)
An application service provider that focuses on providing and hosting applications related exclusively to business functions.

CGI (Common Gateway Interface)
A set of rules that describe how a Web Server communicates with another piece of software on the same machine, and how the other piece of software (the “CGI program”) talks to the web server. Any piece of software can be a CGI program if it handles input and output according to the CGI standard. Usually a CGI program is a small program that takes data from a web server and does something with it, like putting the content of a form into an e-mail message, or turning the data into a database query. You can often see that a CGI program is being used by seeing “cgi-bin” in a URL, but not always.

Most often used to refer to having a server that belongs to one person or group physically located on an Internet-connected network that belongs to another person or group. Usually this is done because the server owner wants their machine to be on a high-speed Internet connection and/or they do not want the security risks of having the server on their own network.

The speed at which the end user can access information. A computer buzzword that refers to a program or device’s ability to link with other programs and devices. For example, a program that can import data from a wide variety of other programs and can export data in many different formats is said to have good connectivity. On the other hand, computers that have difficulty linking into a network (many laptop computers, for example) have poor connectivity. Telecommunications companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide services to allow users to connect to the Internet.

Class or Service. A way of managing traffic in a network by grouping similar types of content (e.g., email, video, documents) together and treating each type as a class with its on level of priority.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM is enterprise-wide software applications that allow companies to manage every aspect of their relationship with a customer. The basic aim is to assist in building lasting customer relationships, turning customer satisfaction into customer loyalty and using data mining techniques to harvest customer data stored in databases.

Data Center
A centralized storage facility used by an ASP to retain database information for remote access by end users.

Data Warehouse
A database containing information related to the decision-making processes of an organization.

Domain Name Service. The way in which an Internet domain name is located and translated into an address.

DS-1 or T-1 line
Data communication circuit capable of transmitting data at 1.5 Mbps. Used primarily by businesses to transmit video, voice and data applications.

DS-3 or T-3 line
A data circuit capable of transmission up to 45 Mbps. Larger businesses, government institutions and service provider carriers of high-end applications typically use T-3s.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
EDI is the electronic transfer of business transactions such as orders and invoices. The data is transfered between different companies using networks, such as the Internet. As more and more companies get connected to the Internet, EDI is becoming increasingly important as an easy mechanism for companies to buy, sell, and trade information.

Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM)
ERM relates to solutions allowing an enterprise to share customer, product, competitor and market information to accomplish goals of meeting long term customer satisfaction and increased revenues.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
ERP is a business management system that integrates all facets of the business, including planning, manufacturing, sales, and marketing. As the ERP methodology has become more popular, software applications have emerged to help business managers implement ERP.

Similar to an Intranet with the added feature that the information contained can be accessed externally by business partners.

Fat Client
In a client/server architecture, a client that performs the bulk of the data processing operations. The data itself is stored on the server. Although the term usually refers to software, it can also apply to a network computer that has relatively strong processing abilities.

Basic logical unit in which bit-oriented data is transmitted.

Frame Relay
A high-speed packet switching protocol in networks, including LANs, WANs and LAN-to-LAN. Frame Relay networks in the U.S. support data transfer rates at T-1 (1.544 Mbps) and T-3 (45 Mbps) speeds. In fact, you can think of Frame Relay as a way of utilizing existing T-1 and T-3 lines owned by a service provider. Most telephone companies now provide Frame Relay service for customers who want connections at 56 Kbps to T-1 speeds.

A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN into two or more parts for security purposes.

A term meaning a technical hardware and software setup that is able to translate between two dissimilar protocols.

Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network.

Hosted Outsourcing
Hiring an ASP to outsource a company’s entire information technology applications and associated hardware systems.

A company’s network of mainframe client/servers, various routing equipment, PCs, hardware, software, etc.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
An international communications transfer standard for sending voice, video, and data over digital telephone lines or normal telephone wires. ISDN supports data transfer rates of 64 Kbps (64,000 bits per second) and most telecommunications companies offer customers connection speeds of up to 128 Kbps.

Independent Software Vendor (ISV)
A firm that develops software applications that is not associated with a computer systems manufacturer.

Killer app (killer application)
A new good or service that establishes an entirely new category and by being first dominates it creating an enormous return on the initial investment.
Leased Line
A telecommunications line that is leased to a customer or business through predetermined routers.

Local Exchange Carrier
A telecommunications company that provides telecommunications services in a defined geographic area.

A variant of Unix developed by a gentleman named Linus Torvald. Unix is a Multitasking Operating System developed in 1969. The are many variants of Unix. Written in the C Programming Language it is very portable – running on a number of different computers. Unix is the main operating system used by Internet host computers.

MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)
The standard for attaching nontext files to standard Internet mail messages. Nontext files include graphics, spreadsheets, formatted word-processor documents, sound files, and so on. An e-mail program is said to be MIME-compliant if it can both send and receive files using the MIME standard. When non-text files are sent using the MIME standard they are converted (encoded) into text – although the resulting text is not really readable.

MSP (Managed Service Provider)
A company that manages IT services for other companies.

Net-centric software
Ready-to-use business software solutions downloadable or deliverable via the Internet rather than out-of-the-box from a retailer or e-tailer.

Network Computer
A “thin client” hardware device that executes applications locally by downloading them from a network. A computer with minimal memory, disk storage and processor power designed to connect to a network, especially the Internet. The idea behind network computers is that many users who are connected to a network don’t need all the computer power they get from a typical personal computer. Instead, they can rely on the power of the network servers.

OSS (Operational Support System)
An application that helps monitor, control, analyze and manage problems with a computer to telco network.

Hiring an outside source, usually a consultant or application service provider, to transfer components or large segments of an organization’s internal IT structure, staff, processes and applications for access via a virtual private network or an Internet-based browser.

Packaged Software Application
A computer program developed for use by multiple consumers or businesses.

A piece of a message transmitted over a packet-switching network. One of the key features of a packet is that it contains the destination address in addition to the data.

Determining the overall productivity of an ASP based on availability, throughput and response time.

Usually used as a marketing term to described a Web site that is or is intended to be the first place people see when using the Web. Typically a “portal site” has a catalog of web sites, a search engine or both. A portal site may also offer e-mail and other services to entice people to use that site as their main “point of entry” (hence “portal”) to the Web.

A communications device between networks that determines the best connection path for optimal performance.

Scalable hardware or software can be expanded as required in the future. For instance, a particular application program may be set up to run for two concurrent users but can be scaled up for more users if the company using it needed to expand in the future.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Service Level Agreements or SLAs are contracts between an ASP and the end user which stipulates and commits the ASP to a required level of service. An SLA should contain a specified level of service, support options, enforcement or penalty provisions for services not provided, a guaranteed level of system performance as relates to downtime or uptime, a specified level of customer support and what software and hardware will be provided and for what fee.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)
A protocol designed by Netscape Communications to enable encrypted, authenticated communications across the Internet. SSL is used mostly (but not exclusively) in communications between Web browsers and Web servers. URL’s that begin with “https” indicate that an SSL connection will be used. SSL provides three important things: Privacy, Authentication, and Message Integrity. In an SSL connection each side of the connection must have a Security Certificate, which each side’s software sends to the other. Each side then encrypts what it sends using information from both its own and the other side’s certificate, ensuring that only the intended recipient can de-crypt it, and that the other side can be sure the data came from the place it claims to have come from and that the message has not been tampered with.

Single-Point Control
An aspect of an ASP model where single point of ownership helps reduce the total cost of applications ownership by enabling widely used applications and data to be deployed, managed and supported at one location. Single-point control enables installation, updates and additions to be made only once on the server and be immediately available to end users at their remote locations.

Thin Client
A low-cost computing device that accesses applications and/or data from a central server over a network. Categories of thin clients include Windows-Based Terminals, (which comprise the largest segment), X-Terminals, and Network Computers (NC).

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
A business model that helps IT professionals understand and manage the budgeted and unbudgeted costs incurred for acquiring, maintaining and using an application or a computing system. TCO normally includes training, upgrades, and administration as well as the purchase price. Lowering TCO through single-point control is a key benefit of server-based computing.

Total Security Architecture (TSA)
A comprehensive, end-to-end architecture that protects the network.

Three-tier architecture
Three-tier architecture is a special type of client/server architecture consisting of three well-defined and separate processes, each running on a different platform:
  • The user interface, which runs on the user’s computer (the client).
  • The functional modules that actually process data. This middle tier runs on a server and is often called the application server.
  • A database management system (DBMS) that stores the data required by the middle tier. This tier runs on a second server called the database server.
  • The three-tier design has many advantages over traditional two-tier or single-tier designs, the chief ones being: The added modularity makes it easier to modify or replace one tier without affecting the other tiers.
  • Separating the application functions from the database functions makes it easier to implement load balancing.
Vertical Market ASPs
Companies that provide applications and support to a specific industry such as government or health care.

VSP (Vertical Service Provider)
An ASP that focuses on one market or industry (e.g., real estate, insurance or construction)

A Vertical Industry Portal is a portal Web site that provides information and resources for a particular industry. Vortals are the Internet’s way of catering to consumers’ focused-environment preferences. Vortals typically provide news, research and statistics, discussions, newsletters, online tools, and many other services that educate users about a specific industry. As the Web becomes a standard tool for business, vortals will join and maybe replace general portal sites like AOL and Yahoo! as common gateways to the Internet.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Usually refers to a network in which some of the parts are connected using the public Internet, but the data sent across the Internet is encrypted, so the entire network is “virtually” private. A typical example would be a company network where there are two offices in different cities. Using the Internet, the two offices merge their networks into one network but encrypt traffic that uses the Internet link.

WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers)
A commercial software package that allows the indexing of huge quantities of information, and then making those indices searchable across networks such as the Internet. A prominent feature of WAIS is that the search results are ranked according to how relevant the hits are, and that subsequent searches can find more stuff like that last batch and thus refine the search process.

The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is a secure specification that allows users to access information instantly via handheld wireless devices such as mobile phones, pagers, two-way radios, smartphones and communicators.


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