Hosted software service refers to software that has been installed in an environment that is external to your organization and is designed to run on the service provider's server(s). As their customer, you are able to use the service for your defined purpose. Hosted software is similar to many other software products that you first download and install on your server, configure and maintain for optimum results. In the case of hosted service, however, you can use the software application without installing it on your server. You simply change the parameters using the software interface provided without being concerned about issues such as software maintenance and periodic upgradation.
Why should you invest in hosted service instead of installing and deploying software on your own web server ?
This is a million dollar question that arises often. Here are a few observations on the subject:
Hosted or Installed Software? You get to pick...
Ease of Deployment
In a hosted application, the user interface or the front-end of the software application you wish to use resides on your company's computer or network. The actual computer program, the data and the application's logical elements reside on a different server. This server is owned, operated and maintained by an independent company which extends this service to you for a set fee. Data communication between your computer system and that of the hosted application service provider takes place in an encrypted environment so as to prevent a security breach. Your access to the hosted application is based on a subscription plan set forth by the Application Service Provider (ASP) providing the hosted service. As the end user and the beneficiary of this approach, you do not have to expend your valuable time trying to install or implement the program on your servers.
Complicated Learning Curves with Locally Installed Applications
If you decide to invest in the locally installed version of a software application instead of subscribing to a service which offers this software solution as a hosted application, learning how to install, configure and test-drive the application prior to customization becomes your responsibility. This is sure to drain your valuable human resources which will eventually translate into lost revenue at least indirectly. A subscription to a hosted application, on the other hand, allows you to transfer the often tedious responsibility of integrating the application with your existing set-up to some one else who is probably more qualified and experienced than you or your tech support expert.
End of Tech Support Woes
In a hosted environment, it is your hosted service provider and not you that has to deal with the software developer's tech support team. Resolving operational issues and trouble-shooting the application becomes the responsibility of your hosted application service provider and that is precisely what your subscription fee covers. There is tangible benefit in the fact that a hosted environment allows you to focus more diligently on your core competency instead of having to attend to system operability.
No More Updating and Upgrading Nightmares
Imagine what would happen to your company's bottom line if you had to continuously upgrade, fine-tune and customize your primary software application? Not only would it divert focus, it would probably create serious bottlenecks within your organization. It is therefore a good idea to literally "outsource" your worries to a qualified and reliable hosted application provider and concentrate on your primary business activity.
Routine Maintenance Performed Routinely 24X7
Like everything else hi-tech, dedicated software applications too need regular preventive maintenance. This may even involve having to shut down your servers for a limited duration. During the dawn of the Internet era, you could conduct server maintenance during the night. However, in today's global economy in which time zone differences are blurred and inconsequential, shutting your company's servers down for maintenance is like asking Santa not to visit you on Christmas eve. Hosted service providers conduct routine maintenance in the background while your organization's peak performance continues to remain unabated on full throttle.
Server Compatibility and Seamless Integration
When selecting a software application to use on your servers for improved efficiency and productivity, there is always the possibility of an in-built incompatibility between the operating system platform of the application you have chosen and that of your server. Using the hosted version of the software package you have selected may just be the ideal solution. Moreover, integrating the software application with your existing set up is a responsibility the hosting application service provider will gladly assume because successful integration means a long-term business relationship with your company.
Server Traffic and Bandwidth Utilization
There are proverbial limitations pertaining to bandwidth and resource utilization regardless of whether the software application you are planning to use is deployed on a hosted or dedicated environment. Having said that, it is reasonable to assume that your hosted solutions provider is better equipped to handle sudden traffic spurts and peak traffic patterns. Their response time to breakdowns is usually lower than the time it will take you to implement corrective measures.
All about Security
Security add-ons such as SSL certificates, data encryption solutions and other security measures can prove to be expensive when deployed for a single customer. Hosted solution providers can afford to install the best security solutions since these assets would be supported with multiple revenue streams.
Data Warehousing, Backup and Disaster Recovery
Hosted application providers not only provide virus-free software functionality remotely. They also backup your critical assets as a routine procedure. This additional layer of iron-clad protection will provide you, as the profit center head, that much needed peace of mind and tranquility.
Server Resource Monitoring
Real time visitor monitoring and the live chat application generate instant communication between your web site visitor's computer and the server to transact with the chat operator's computer. If any process happens to go out of control, the server load typically shoots up which may lead to a delayed web site response or even a melt-down. This may eventually result in the loss of customers. In a hosted software environment, the application service provider constantly monitors the hosting servers for resource utilization and will address the issue immediately. This eliminates the possibility of service interruption on your servers thus ensuring smooth process flows and trouble-free core functionality.
Low Stress and Improved Productivity
Improved focus on your primary business model translates into improved performance and a healthy bottom line. Moreover, the way in which low stress levels on the job can add to a congenial work environment is no secret.
Hosted Applications are more Economical in the Long Run
No matter in which way you perform the calculation, it is more cost-effective to use hosted applications in the long run. A hosted application is legally maintained by an official entity thereby making the entire experience a phenomenon worth investigating. There are usually no long-term commitments to make and you are also free to first try the hosted application first before subscribing to it. Live2Support's live chat solution, for instance, can be trial-tested for fifteen days before you sign the dotted line. This feature also obviates the need to make hefty investments up front.