ASP Systems – Connections Are Critical
Given the challenges of ensuring seamless, effective interfaces between systems, an integrated system that covers all your needs in one application can certainly ease the pain. ASP systems extend the concept even further to integrate multiple locations’ data onto a single server.
“We’ve embraced the concept from both sides,” says Marcus Bruninghaus, Director of IT for Four Seasons Residence Clubs. “We operate two separate businesses at each of our sites: the selling and management of shared ownership packages, and F&B outlets for the Home Owners’ Associations (HOAs). Each uses ASP-based systems; for sales and unit management we use PCC’s TimeShareWare, while the HOA outlets run on InfoGenesis’ e-Revelation POS system.”
“The difference is that we act as the host for TimeShareWare, running it on a server farm at our head office, and as clients for e-Revelation, with each site accessing it from InfoGenesis’ server center. ASPs have major advantages in terms of data reporting since all the information is in one place. Without having to deal with system-to-system and location-to-location data consolidation, whole-company and cross-property data analysis becomes comparatively straightforward. Installing the systems at each site is also remarkably fast and simple once you have the central applications configured.”
But you can’t escape links between computers. Have you had any communication issues?
“Communication IS the issue!” replies Bruninghaus. “As the TimeShareWare service provider for our remote sites worldwide, we have to make sure we have enough hardware and communications redundancy here to ensure they can always connect, which they do through Citrix. Especially overseas, though, we have to rely on local communications providers to keep their end of the link up, and that’s not always easy to trouble-shoot.”
“Fortunately, Revelation has enough local intelligence in its workstations to keep running if the main link goes down. You lose the ability to perform all-terminal reporting or make menu changes, but these aren’t as time-critical as taking orders and printing checks. And with software updates being done after midnight, if we’ve lost communications since we installed the systems last year we haven’t noticed it.”