Just to confuse ordinary people like you and me, there are two equally important definitions of ASP. The term can refer to 1) an Active Server Page, or 2) an Application Service Provider.
1. Active Server Page
This is a Web page that has one or more ASP scripts embedded in it. ASP scripts are like small computer programs that run when an ASP-based Web page is accessed. You can tell if you're accessing an active server page if the suffix of the URL is ".asp" (as opposed to ".html"). ASP pages are processed on a Web server before they are transferred to a user's Web browser.
ASP pages are typically used for pages that have dynamic, or frequently changing information. For example, an ASP script might get a visitor's zip code through a form on a Web page, then customize the content on the resulting page based on that information. Since ASP technology was designed by Microsoft, ASP scripts are typically written in Microsoft's Visual Basic programming language.
2. Application Service Provider
Sometimes refered to as an "app-on-tap," this is a third-party company that distributes software-based services from a central location to customers in other locations. ASPs offer companies services that would otherwise have to be done in-house, or onsite. Using an ASP is often an inexpensive way for companies and organizations to manage their information services. There are five main categories of Application Service Providers:
- Local or Regional ASP - supplies many different application services for smaller businesses or individuals in a local area.
- Specialist ASP - provides applications for specific needs, such as Human Resources or Web services.
- Vertical Market ASP - provides support to a specific industry such as Education.
- Enterprise ASP - delivers information and services for high-end business.
- Volume Business ASP - supplies small or medium-sized businesses with services in high volume.