I’ve often had clients and prospects ask me what exactly does hosting an application mean? It is a fairly easy concept, but not so easy to explain given today’s technologies and rapid change of definitions, so here goes my try at explaining it.
You may know it as Application Hosting as ASP (Application Service Provider), SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), On-Demand software, or simply Outsourcing. Though all of these terms are closely related to each other, they are not completely interchangeable, but the concept is the basically the same and fairly simple.
What Does Hosting Mean?
Hosting is a software application distribution system where your application - CRM, Location Intelligence/ Mapping or others, are maintained and managed by a qualified service provider and made available to you, as a service over the WWW. Essentially, this means that an application resides on the provider’s servers instead of your in-house servers. The application can be instantly accessed and shared by your sales/marketing and other company staff, through a web browser. In most cases, this means that the hosting provider is responsible for support, maintenance, installations, upgrades and security on a 24x7 basis.
What is a Qualified Provider?
Generally, a qualified service provider is a company that has either developed the application and/or is certified by a software manufacturer, such as Microsoft. Qualified Providers have worked extensively with your application and understand all the ins and outs. They know exactly how to make the application work and are able to support you with best practices.
What are the Highlights:
With a good hosting service, you should experience the following
- No loss of data security or control
- Quicker implementation and quicker ROI
- No steep learning curves, plus ease of use
- Reduced Sales, Marketing and IT support
- Lower software and hardware costs
- 24x7 maintenance and support and security
- Automatic and frequent upgrades
- Ability to implement enhancements on an ongoing basis
What are the Benefits:
The biggest benefit is that you are sharing and accessing vital information with all your sales and marketing teams, instead of it all residing on your separate desktops. In addition, you should get:
- Sales & Marketing on the same page, sharing the same information all the time
- Enhanced company image and customer loyalty
- Reduced costs and increased revenue and ROI
Bottom line is: You get to concentrate on your core competencies, and increase your sales and marketing effectiveness.
What Companies are Using Application Hosting?
CRM Magazine’s January 2009 Special Supplement, Best Practices Series: Software-as-a-Service said, “according to Analyst Perspectives, 55 percent of businesses based in North America will have deployed at least one SaaS application by the end of 2008. They further stated that, “in fact, if industry forecasts can be believed, by 2012 nearly 30 percent of business software will be deployed and delivered via the SaaS model”.
So, do you now have a better idea of what hosting is? Are you using it? If so, what are the results? If not, are you considering it? I welcome you comments.