Application Service Provider

What Does Application Service Provider Mean?

An application service provider (ASP) is a vendor that provides individual users – or an entire enterprise – with software applications over a network, usually a local area network (LAN) or an LAN with internet access. The provided software may be referred to as software as a service, apps on tap, or on-demand software. One of the most basic forms of ASP is a vendor that provides access to a particular application software using HTTP protocol.


Techopedia Explains Application Service Provider

An ASP is an alternative to the repetitive and costly process of installing the same software application on many individual computers or network stations, and using local hard drive space to install those applications. An additional benefit is that software upgrades are often automatic, and the ASP often agrees to provide technical support and security for its software. With an adequately fast network connection, an ASP can support business continuity and flexible working hours.

Organizations that use ASPs include businesses, nonprofit and membership organizations and governments.

The ASP model has both advantages and disadvantages. In addition to the advantages described above, others include a service level agreement (SLA) that guarantees software usability and reliability, lower IT costs and the ability to redeploy IT staff to projects other than software updating and maintenance.

The disadvantages of ASPs include the inability to customize software applications (except for the largest clients). In addition, ASP changes may adversely change the service provided to a business’s clients. Finally, a business may have difficulty integrating ASP software with non-ASP software. Also, ASP control over corporate data and the corporate image may compromise corporate control and security.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.