In today’s connected world, keeping your Web-based systems up and running is crucial. But in many of today’s IT departments, people go about their business hoping that everything else keeps running smoothly. It’s only when a system crashes and the phones start ringing that people start looking for the cause. In this interview with StrataSource President and CEO Thomas Jones, we learn about proactive system monitoring and problem prevention, the real cost of system downtime, and more about the challenges of integrating ASPs into your solution mix.

TR: How does StrataSource help businesses meet the real-time, 24/7 customer service challenges of the Web?
Thomas Jones: StrataSource provides remote proactive database administration and system administration. We do this by using the proprietary technology we developed in the form of intelligent software agents. We’ve put those software agents on our clients’ computers and servers, and those agents proactively monitor the infrastructure of the computer. By infrastructure, I mean the database and the operating system. We monitor those systems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When the software detects an error, it is smart enough to send a message to our operations center. Our support managers then see the issue and can log right into the system and fix the problem. Most of the time, we don’t even have to involve the end user in the problem. Our software detects the problem, we see the problem, and we fix it before the customer even is aware of the problem.

TR: StrataSource’s Web site states that, depending on the size and type of company, downtime can cost between $14,000 to $6.45 million an hour. What factors did you consider to get those figures?
Jones: Those numbers are true, and we’re getting even more numbers from outside sources that show those numbers are even larger over time. When a company depends on a software application, such as e-commerce, and the server is down, your company loses in many ways. First, it loses revenues because now people can’t buy from its e-commerce site. Second, when the server is down, the company loses market opportunities because the people out there buying can’t get in to buy even more. In addition, downtime affects your company’s market capitalization, stock price, market brand, and even image. You can easily see how these costs can grow dramatically.

TR: What is the future of ASPs?
Jones: StrataSource isn’t an ASP, but we work with ASPs. Now, there’s an awful lot of hype about ASPs, but there’s going to be a lot of retrenching and consolidation. The current ASP model, which involves hosting and allowing people to run applications, will have very little impact in the long-term. An ASP doesn’t provide enough value to the users, it just allows you to rent the software. Over time, that rental will cost you more than you would have spent to purchase it, although you will have achieved some reduction in costs by not having hardware on your premises. The real value of ASPs will occur when software is developed specifically with the ASP model in mind. When software vendors start developing these Web-based applications so that users can access them through browsers or another type of interface, more people on the supply chain will derive greater value from accessing the software on the ASP. Users will benefit much more because everyone they are dealing with, everybody they’re working with in the whole business chain, will have access to that software; that’s when you’ll get the real golden nugget.

TR: What are some of the challenges that will face customers that adopt the ASP model?
Jones: The real challenge is that one ASP is probably not going to be able to offer everything you need. Companies will have to start using multiple ASPs. Which raises two questions. How do you integrate them, and if you still have software in-house, which I think is always going to be true, how do you integrate the software that’s in-house with the ASPs? These are the challenges of the future. They’ll most certainly be overcome, but they remain to be answered at this time.