The ASP Alliance Chapter (AAC) today released three documents establishing guidelines that seeks to enhance the understanding of the local Application Service Provider (ASP) industry and define the parameters in which ASPs operate.
The AAC was formed, under the auspices of the Singapore IT Federation (SITF), on 29 August 2000 by 13 companies from the IT and telecommunication sectors representing both ASPs and non-ASPs. Its primary aim; to develop and advance the ASP industry in Singapore.
Government bodies would also be able to use these guidelines as a framework to evaluate ASP applications for grants, such as the Jumpstart Programme by the Productivity and Standards Board (PSB). This guideline for ASPs is the first of its kind in Singapore.
"The ASP industry today is in a constant state of flux. Everyday, there are new players entering the ASP space and there is a lot of confusion in the marketplace,"said Wong Wai Meng, vice chairman of the AAC executive committee. "Companies see this confusion and are reluctant to commit to ASP services. The AAC recognises the need to make sense of this chaos, and the urgency of setting up industry standards."
"One of the perennial issues facing the ASP industry is the lack of trust on the reliability of service providers. Hence, we hope that by conforming to these industry standards, our members will be able to establish their credibility in the industry," added Wong.
Defining an Application Service Provider (ASP)
In the documents, the AAC attempts to define an ASP and the numerous terminologies that have surfaced in the industry. The ASP is identified as an ecosystem in which organisations with different competencies collaborate to deliver ASP services to end-users. While ASP remains a generic term that applies across the entire ecosystem, there are subcategories that serve to clarify the role each type of provider (ie. Sales/Marketing, Contract, Billing, Support, Customization) plays within the ASP ecosystem.
Guideline for Service Level Agreement
For companies (local and foreign) that intend to subscribe to ASP services in Singapore, the AAC has proposed guidelines to ensure that they are provided with the necessary information about the ASP model before making a decision to go with the selected vendor.
Presented in a question-and-answer format, the guideline covers the terms and conditions that govern the relationship and obligation between the service provider and customer, commonly referred to as a “Service Level Agreement” (SLA).
“With this guideline, corporate end-users will be aware of what they are getting
into and set their expectations on quality of service. The SLA will commit the
ASP to a mutually agreed level of service to the customer. Although the SLA
is legally binding, we still have to caution buyers that it’s
AAC Code of Practice for Members
The AAC code of practice looks into the responsibilities of members vis-à-vis the stakeholders which include the regulatory agencies, customers, business partners, members of the IT community and even the competition. The AAC code supplements the Code of Conduct of the Singapore Information Technology Federation (SITF), which is the leading trade organisation representing the IT industry in Singapore and acts as the advisory, consultative and co-ordinating body for the industry.
AAC members are bound to conduct their business in a professional and ethical manner. For example, in matters of client relations, members must fully disclose all relevant and material facts relating to each proposed activity. Any wilful failure to disclose significant items when providing an estimate of costs is considered a violation of the code.
“At the end of the day, while our guidelines can set the industry standards and educate businesses of the viability of ASP services, AAC members are still responsible to their own customers,” said Yeo.
At present, there are 33 official members in the AAC (approved under the guidelines) and 50 are expected in the pipeline.
The AAC was formed, under the auspices of the Singapore IT Federation (SITF), on 29 August 2000 by 13 industry leaders with the aim of advancing the adoption of ASP services in Singapore.
Today, there are 14 Executive Committee members in the AAC, namely: Alcatel Internetworking, CalendarOne.com, Cisco Systems, Ecpod.com, eGain Communications, Hewlett-Packard, iASPire.net Pte Ltd, Microsoft Singapore, Symix Singapore, PWR Powerlan Singapore, Progress Software, Solomon Software, Sun Microsystems and StarHub Pte Ltd. Mr Leong Han Kong of Hewlett-Packard chairs the committee.
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) sits in the committee as an honorary member, while the Singapore IT Federation acts as the AAC Secretariat.