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Assessing The Deployment, Hosting And Integration Of Business-critical Information Systems By Application Service Providers

Objective

This project investigates the deployment, hosting and integration of business-critical information systems by the Application Service Provider (ASP) industry. ASPs are companies that manage and deliver application capabilities to multiple organisations via data centres operating across a wide area network. The industry is of increasing importance to European companies and predicted as a major growth area with revenues from ASP services expected to grow to ¿30.03 trillion by 2002 (Dataquest). The ASP model offers new opportunities and threats, building on previous forms of IT outsourcing, with the added need to partner with telecommunications organisations, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Internet Service Providers for example. Consequently, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) will need to ensure that the provision of business critical applications by ASPs will meet cost, performance and quality of service targets.

Objectives:
The main objective of the ALTERNATIVE project is to provide European SMEs with a web-enabled tool to manage risk assessment with respect to the deployment, hosting and integration of business critical information systems by application service providers. In building the ALTERNATIVE system the objectives will be to:
- identify the critical deployment, hosting and integration issues;
- extend and refine the risk assessment framework developed by Brunel University;
- evaluate how application outsourcing using ASP differs from traditional service bureau, mainframe & datacentre outsourcing;
- using a taxonomy of ASPs investigate their European market penetration with performance indicators, assessment criteria, metrics and tools developed in the risk-assessment framework;
- investigate how ASP solutions can integrate heterogeneous applications across multiple platforms, sites & environments;
- through seminars, forums & workshops disseminate the findings of ALTERNATIVE and maximise European SMEs access.

Work description:
The ALTERNATIVE project will develop a web-enabled tool to provide a risk assessment framework for evaluating the deployment, hosting & integration of a taxonomy of Application Service Provider (ASP) business models. Although the value proposition of the ASP business model has numerous potential benefits to SMEs, notably, a reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) of IT, access to scarce IT skills, affordable software applications (including ERP systems tailored to the SME sector) and many more, potential customers will only buy into the ASP model once certain assurances are given. The ALTERNATIVE project aims to encourage technical diffusion of ASP offerings by providing customers with a valuable evaluative tool. The objectives will be achieved by bringing together the complementary expertise of the consortium members.

The project is divided into 5 workpackages.
WP1 develops a thorough analysis of the ASP business and technical domains and uses this knowledge to refine the risk-analysis framework, the content for the web-tool. The key deliverable that is used in WP2 is the functional requirements for the ALTERNATIVE system.
WP2 involves the development of the ALTERNATIVE web-tool and internal testing with consortium SMEs. The test results of piloting the tool with these SMEs is the key deliverable transferred to the next workpackage.
WP3 is where the ALTERNATIVE system is tested with customers of the consortium members. This public pilot will generate evaluation and enhancement information with which the tool will be refined. The tests will be conducted with companies from the financial services and chemicals industries, together with SMEs from South-Eastern Europe. The finalisation of system enhancements and incorporation of user requirements takes place.
WP4 During this workpackage a strategy for public dissemination and access to the system is defined and a public report and invitation will be distributed to Europe's SMEs. This workpackage focuses on dissemination and exploitation of ALTERNATIVEs project knowledge and results.
WP5 is the project management system.

Milestones:
The major milestones/results are:
M1. System Specification & Functional Requirements (month 5);
M2. ALTERNATIVE Prototype 1 (month 9);
M3. ALTERNATIVE System External Pilot (month 15);
M4. ALTERNATIVE Prototype 3 (month 16);
M5. Demonstration of ALTERNATIVE System (month 20).
1] In-depth and extensive European wide research undertaken to assess the current ASP market. From this the ASP Business and Technical report was produced as was the system specification & functional requirements of ALTERNATIVE system and the ASP Strategic Report (accomplished in year 1);
2] Design of the ALTERNATIVE Prototype 1 system architecture, development of use cases and UML scenarios
-definition of decision tools required and structure of ASP specific content (included menu options, type of content, accessibility levels of users etc
-presented to the commission in 2nd Project review meeting in January 2003);
3] Extensive testing of prototype 1 undertaken across Europe by both Partners and SMEs of the system tools and contents
-resulting in test and enhancement reports being produced;
4] Prototype 3 developed based on the ALTERNATIVE functional modifications/refinements report produced from work package 2 as well as the integration of all decision tools and content into one working application to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed system in educating the SME and other potential target markets about ASP and how the system tools could facilitate the decision making process (accomplished in year 2
-presented in the third project review meeting, July 2003);
5] Project presentation website (www.alternative-project.org) implemented in December 2001 and the re -designed and updated in October 2002. Project dissemination and use plans (DUP) submitted throughout project and formulation of the technology implementation plan. Various activities undertaken throughout the project to disseminate the results of the project to the European SME and academic and industrial community
-demonstrations of the system given at conferences and events. Public invitation to use the system and formulation of public report initiated November 2003;
6] Final demonstration of system capabilities to be presented in final review meeting December 2003.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

THE UNIVERSITY OF SURREY
Address

GU2 7XH Guildford
United Kingdom

Participants (6)

APELDORN'S COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES GMBH
Germany
Address
Louisenstrasse 40
61348 Bad Homberg
BOC INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES CONSULTING GMBH
Austria
Address
Baeckerstrasse 5/3
1010 Wien
ERNST & YOUNG LLP
United Kingdom
Address
Becket House, 1 Lambeth Palace Road
SE1 7EU London
INEOS CHLOR LIMITED
United Kingdom
Address
Runcorn Site Hq, South Parade
WA7 4JE Cheshire
NETSTORE PLC
United Kingdom
Address
3 The Arena, Downshire Way,
RG12 1PU Bracknell, Berkshire
POULIADIS ASSOCIATES CORP
Greece
Address
Sigrou Avenue 142
17671 Athens