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Do I Love the Web? You Bet Your ASP!
by Mike Banks Valentine

The proliferation of Application Service Providers, or ASP's,
is making me very happy! They host software on their own servers
which obviates the need for every person to own their own soft-
ware and even allows testing of programs on machines that
couldn't possibly run that software.

This makes the most powerful software available through your
web browser for just a subscription fee in most cases. And
you no longer have to own the computer capable of running
powerful programs, just one capable of viewing the output in
HTML or Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) or a handful of other
web languages accessible to your browser.

Proprietary systems no longer need to be compiled for every
type of computer operating system they will be hosted on,
just the single ASP server machine (and backup). The service
provider will optimize for all of the viewing devices from
WebTV to cel phones. ASP's are a boon to Macintosh users who
have been locked out of many types of valuable programs useable
only on PC platforms with the Windows OS.

As a Macintosh iMac user, I now have access to software
running on powerful Web servers. Cross platform use is possible
AND with the further development of XML, we'll have access to
huge databases of information for conveniences such as download-
ing and storing phone numbers in your cell phone as you look
them up online via wireless web.

An additional benefit is that ASP's will continually attempt
to outperform their competitors by upgrading and improving
their services, leading to more and more powerful applications
available online from multiple sources. They'll upgrade the
service provided to outpace their competition and keep their
user base from moving to a better provider!

I am currently beta testing a wonderful Customer Relations
Management ASP that is going to make my life online very much
easier. To stay in contact with my clients, track my progress
on jobs, and keep up-to-date on every move I need to make in
relation to my clients!

I've owned multiple proprietary packages that must be
constantly upgraded each time I upgrade my computer or my
operating system. The software company keeps eeking more money
out of me each time I want updates or improvements and locks
me out of portions that would earn them more money if I get
frustrated enough with the lack of functionality and finally
upgrade or pay to customize.

Application Service Providers will make that constant upgrading
unnecessary for most of us by simply upgrading the benefits of
service. They will do all of that on their own machines, without
the need for upgrades of your hardware or my software!

The biggest drawback to some ASP's is that they will be
optimized to work best with the lowest common denominator of
browser and operating systems, which in effect STILL locks out
those of us who don't use Uncle Bill's Windows or Explorer
software! Certainly this will be overcome as ASP's seek to draw
universally from the potential market without regard to our
hardware or the browser software we choose to use.

I'm very optimistic in regard to the effect the web is having
on society as a whole. "Open source" code and universal
accessibility through HTML, XML, JAVA, WAP and all the other
browser languages that power the web are making possible new
wonders every day!

Do I love the web? YOU BET YOUR ASP!

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July 26, 2001