Security Main Fear of ASP Customers: Survey

Security continues to remain the primary concern of existing and future application service provider (ASP) customers, according to a recent survey conducted in the United States on behalf of an ASP advocacy group.

More than 60 per cent of those surveyed by Zona Research, Inc. of Redwood City, Calif., say their greatest fear about using ASPs is “security of (their) data may be compromised.”

The ASP Industry Consortium (AIC) commissioned the survey as part of a quarterly series. The AIC is an international advocacy group of more than 675 companies formed to promote the ASP industry.

Although the survey was confined to customers in the United States, ASP analyst Lise Dellazizzo of IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto says the same issues exist in Canada.

“With the ASP model, what a company is asked to do essentially is let another company manage its applications. And if those applications happen to be mission-critical applications, then the whole issue of security is extremely important,” she explains.

According to the AIC survey, security fears are not without merit. Although the vast majority of respondents indicate anti-virus software and software firewalls are currently being supported and provided by their ASPs, only 36 per cent indicate user-based access control/authentication is available. And only 22 per cent say their ASPs support and provide intrusion detection.

According to David Fung, the president of FutureLink Canada in Toronto, a subsidiary of AIC founding member FutureLink Corp., the problem is many current ASPs are “mom-and-pop” operations trying to take advantage of a burgeoning business model.

“The key is the customers have to decide what service-level agreement they want, and who can deliver it and execute it,” he says.

The AIC survey reveals customers are demanding that their applications be available on a near-constant basis. More than 50 per cent of respondents indicate the acceptable level of downtime must not be more than .01 per cent, or only 53 minutes a year.

IDC Canada’s Delazizzo says the ASP market will generate about $23 million in revenue this year. She says IDC expects that figure to jump to $445 million by 2004, but that will still be a small portion of the $7.2 billion worldwide market.