Thin-client networking is one way to reduce the cost of administering applications and managing upgrades. However, it’s an answer only for those companies that have the resources and experience to implement applications in a multiuser environment. Smaller companies or those companies that need only a small set of applications might not find server-based computing a practical solution.

More precisely, those companies might find that administering server-based computing themselves is not a practical solution. In that case, they might turn to an application service provider (ASP), a company that hosts applications (most ASPs currently specialize in a particular application type) and makes them available to its clients via the Internet, a VPN, or a dedicated connection. The ASP configures the applications for each client, stores data relevant to those applications, and charges for access to the applications and for data storage.

Before offloading this responsibility to an ASP, however, you need to know what you’re getting into. For that reason, Windows NT Magazine is launching ASP Review UPDATE, a new biweekly e-newsletter starting December 15, 1999. ASP Review UPDATE is for end users or potential end users who are investigating ASPs but are unsure how ASPs work. (Given the diversity of ASPs, almost everyone is unsure of just how ASPs work.) Although responsibility for configuration lies on the server side, potential clients need to know what they’re doing so they can partner with the ASP that’s right for them. What applications are available? How does the pricing structure operate? What kinds of connections do you use to get to your applications? What kind of contractual commitment do you have to make? Who stores your data, and if it’s the ASP, how does the ASP protect that data? Every 2 weeks, we’ll address these and other issues and keep you apprised of relevant industry developments. If you’re considering subscribing to an ASP or just want to know more about the industry, send your questions to christa@aspreview.com and I’ll do my best to answer them. In the meantime, you can find out more and sign up for ASP Review UPDATE by visiting http://www.aspreview.com.