An ASP (Application Service Provider) provides applications – and all the IT infrastructure and support services necessary to deliver them – to customers on a subscription basis. ASPs typically host applications at a remote data center and deliver them to customers via the Internet or a private network.

This basic definition, however, obscures some of the complexities found in today’s ASP marketplace. For example, while some ASPs have the internal resources to provide all the services necessary to deliver applications to customers, others provide only some of these services – such as application or network management – and work with complementary partners to deliver complete solutions to customers. In fact, some independent software vendors (ISVs) also operate as ASPs by partnering with companies that provide the necessary application-delivery, support and network management services. In addition, some ASPs provide services only to a specific vertical market, such as e-business or health care.

Many different types of companies now describe themselves as ASPs. Here is a list of those you might encounter:


  • Full-service ASPs
  • Application infrastructure providers (AIPs)
  • Independent software vendors (ISVs)
  • Network service providers (NSPs)
  • Systems integrators (SIs)
  • Value-added resellers (VARs)

      For a list of things to ask a prospective ASP, click here.