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Concerns about ASPs

Lawyers are understandably concerned about committing their client information to cyberspace, let alone a substantial portion of their business. Despite the advantages that ASPs can offer, there are downsides and risks. 

Security concerns are probably overblown. The companies that market their services to lawyers know they won't stay in business unless they have extremely high security standards. There is always the risk of hackers, but you have that on your own systems too. The risk of a disgruntled current or former employee doing damage to your own systems is probably greater than with applications outsourced to an ASP. 

Red Gorilla, an ASP offering time and billing services to professionals, including lawyers, closed unexpectedly last year, leaving clients with no way to access their data for at least a week. 

If your ASP shuts down or you have a dispute with them, will you be able to get your data back? At the very least, make sure you cover that in your contract with the ASP. A reputable ASP will have a contract that clearly spells out that the data is yours and you can get it back. Some ASPs actually send a copy of your data back to you every night. That reduces the advantages of outsourcing your IT, and has its own security issues, but it is an option. A better option might be to outsource  to another company in the data storage business. Either way, make sure you test the backups periodically to ensure that you really can get at the information. 

More information: Network World Fusion's ASP Information Site includes information on ASP, implementation guidelines, advice on contracts, and more. 

Article from - Legal Issues for Dealing with Application Service Providers (ASPs) By Jay Hollander



Last updated: 05/18/01


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