What Is a Hosted Application?

17 Sep What Is a Hosted Application?

The definition of a hosted application is any software that is installed on a remote server which users can access and use through the internet by means of a recurring subscription service, usually through a third party hosting provider. A remote server infrastructure houses hosted applications and the hosting provider maintains the servers and ensures application uptime and security.

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What Does Hosted Application Mean Compared to SaaS?

While there is a lot of grey area when it comes to cloud and IT definitions, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is generally understood as software that is designed for use in the cloud and provided by the vendor. On the other hand, a hosted application usually refers to a hard install on a remote server and is accessed via the internet.

In most cases, SaaS software remains on the vendor’s servers and is completely maintained and updated by the vendor. A common example of this today is Microsoft Office 365. In the traditional version of Office, users would install the software directly onto their desktop or onto a server they manage and maintain. With O365 this install doesn’t happen, rather the user pays a monthly fee and accesses their software over the internet by connecting to Microsoft’s servers.

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A hosted application on the other hand, is more like a traditional software install, the difference being that the software is installed on a hosted services provider’s remote servers. In this case, the user owns the software license and essentially rents space on a third party’s servers and pays a monthly fee for maintenance.

Hosted Application Examples:

Any application can be hosted by a hosting services provider. Examples of the different types of hosting services include:

  • Managed hosting: with managed hosting, the hosting provider offers software maintenance, security and other robust services.

  • Dedicated hosting: the client leases an entire server to host its software. This is the most private and the most expensive hosting method

  • Shared Hosting: the client leases space on a server along with other clients, spreading the cost of maintenance across multiple clients. This option offers a good balance of cost-effectiveness and privacy and control.

  • Multi-tenant Hosting: This is a SaaS hosting method in which a single instance of software and database is used by multiple users with security and privacy walls in place. A good example of this is social media apps like Facebook.

What is Hosted Services?

Hosted services refers to a variety of IT hosting functions including, infrastructure maintenance, data storage, application services, security, monitoring, email exchange, website hosting and more. Whether virtual desktop hosting, ecommerce marketplace hosting or anything in between, hosted services is a wide reaching umbrella term and different providers offer different levels of service.

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Further Reading: The Difference Between Cloud Storage and Cloud Computing

Benefits of a Hosted Application

The first and most obvious benefit of a hosted application is that these applications are available globally via the internet, anytime and anywhere you have an internet application.

Reduced upfront costs is another benefit. In traditional IT infrastructure a business would have to shell out a lot of cash to build out servers to power its software. Paying a provider on a monthly subscription eliminates this capital expense.

Because the business isn’t building a server room, or multiple server rooms, they can also get their IT infrastructure up running more quickly.

The host has an easier time providing updates and maintaining the system than the user would on their servers and desktops on premise.

Hosted services providers tend to be 100% dedicated to security, generally offering higher levels of data security than can be achieved in house for most businesses. Safety precautions are taken to ensure a secure data exchange, including the use of firewalls, encryption, monitoring and other methods of security protection.

Is Application Hosting Right for Me?

A hosted application offers the convenience and productivity benefits of cloud accessibility while allowing a company to own its software and maintain control. Users can always move their applications from their hosted environment on premise, even after their software licenses have aged. Comparatively, true SaaS applications offer less control and become unavailable when you stop paying your subscription which can make transitioning to new platforms difficult.

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Each method of going cloud offers benefits and in many cases a hybrid approach is used. Some larger, more critical applications like Enterprise Resource Planning are best served by dedicated hosting. Others, like creative marketing tools, may be best suited to a SaaS model. The choice will often depend on the security and controllability needs of the business.

You may also be interested in: Hybrid Cloud Hosting: How to Efficiently Move to the Cloud